Parents, childcare providers call on Congress to fix broken childcare system

WASHINGTON, DC — Childcare costs can be as much as college in some cases and there’s now a push to get Congress to help struggling families and childcare providers.

A Senate panel heard testimony Tuesday about how the pandemic has made it even harder for parents and the facilities trying to stay open to care for the kids.

“There are so many families like mine across the country,” said Dasja Reed, a mother with a 2-year-old son. “We are scrambling to make ends meet.”

Reed said she was working and going to school full-time in New Orleans when the pandemic hit.

“I had to leave my job with the city because my son’s childcare closed and work had not closed yet,” Reed said.

Reed said over time, she was able to get financial assistance for childcare and went back to work but she spent months either not able to work or spending more than half of her income on child care just to stay afloat.

“The childcare business model is broken,” said Susan Gale Perry, Chief Deputy Secretary for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “The reality is that work has been changing for some time and the childcare system has not shifted to meet the changing needs.”

Lawmakers heard calls for more funding to help not only parents but also childcare providers.

Many have faced high vacancy rates during the pandemic and have struggled to cover the cost of employees.

“Neither the parent fees or subsidies cover the true cost of care that allowed me to provide wages and benefits,” said Khadija Khan, Executive Director of Beautiful Beginnings Child Care Center in Rhode Island.

Witnesses stressed the importance of parent choice so families can get childcare that best fits their schedules and individual needs.

“We are raising the next generation,” Reed said. “We are doing our best. Now we need Congress to do the same.”

The American Rescue Plan, which was passed this year, included roughly $40 billion for the childcare industry.