You Just Know Something Has to Change
I had never thought about child care before I had kids. I didn't even used to want kids. When the time came for me to find child care, I was really impressed with the classrooms at ABC & LOL in St. Johnsbury. They are filled with kids that are playing. There's this mix of play and structure, that I think not everywhere has. It was so reassuring knowing that my kids were going to be surrounded by their peers, and be able to learn the really important social pieces that are kind of hard to teach when you live out in the middle of nowhere.
But the cost is substantial and we really struggle, even as a very middle class family. I knew when I was pregnant, people said that it would be expensive, but I didn’t really pay attention to how much it was going to be. It's our second biggest expense after our mortgage. It's non-negotiable. There's no way that I could stay home with the kids, because my job provides most of our income and all of our benefits. It's just not an option for me, or my husband, to stay home.
If the financial assistance structure changed to give us some help, it would mean that we could eat more than just rice with our dinner every day. If you look at us, we're a comfortable family. We're not super struggling and, honestly, I almost feel guilty about wishing that we got some kind of assistance, because I don't want to take it away from other people that are more deserving. But just because we can technically afford it, doesn't mean it’s easy. If we didn’t have to figure out, every single week, where we’re going to get $195, that would be a huge weight off our family.
And yet, I understand why it’s so expensive. I’m the president of the board of Peacham Children’s Center, and we’re trying to get a high-quality child care off the ground in our community. Looking at the budget, what it costs to actually run a program, especially one that you consider to be high-quality, it’s a lot. Part of high-quality is paying child care providers more than just a livable wage, but a wage that allows people to have a life, too, and provides some benefits, like some paid time off, and health care. Personnel costs are the highest costs in any industry, and child care is no different. It requires people to be educated, to at least some level, and it's just expensive for that.
So if we’re struggling to pay for it, and the center is struggling to afford the cost of providing it, you just know something has to change.
Jessica P., Peacham