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Lack of Child Care Leads to Tough Decisions for Parents

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The Child Care Is Essential Act would create a $50 billion fund to ensure parents have access to affordable care. (ShunTerra/Adobe Stock)
The Child Care Is Essential Act would create a $50 billion fund to ensure parents have access to affordable care. (ShunTerra/Adobe Stock)
August 24, 2020

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- The COVID-19 pandemic has been even harder on working parents without child care.

Clara Vazquez of Sunnyside said she's been looking for affordable child care for her seven-year-old son for four years, and that coronavirus has made that search nearly impossible.

Her son is starting distanced learning soon, and Vazquez said she might have to give up caring for one of her clients to ensure her son doesn't fall behind in school.

"I might end up having to work four hours a week," Vazquez said. "Which is not like a livable wage for us, just so I can help my son not be behind on school and everything else."

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is the primary sponsor of the Child Care Is Essential Act, which includes a $50 billion fund to support child care.

Catherine White, director of child care and early learning for the National Women's Law Center, said the child-care system is on the brink of collapse without public funding and the lack of affordable options has impacts on parents and businesses.

"Child care is really the backbone of our economy," White said. "So if we don't invest, there's going to be serious implications for all of us."

White said policymakers have to understand the scope and depth of the shortage.

"We need at least $9.6 billion every month for the duration of this crisis," White said. "And $50 billion is just the sort of short-term stopgap to get us through the next five to six months of keeping our system alive."

For Vazquez, the need is simple.

"I need to find a place where I can put my son," Vasquez said. "So they can take care of him and make sure that he's in a safe environment, and where I know that they're going to be monitoring him on his school work, and making sure he's getting his school day done while I'm at work."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA