KayeLea and her family.
I am a junior at Drake University in Iowa, working on my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. Most importantly, I am a wife to my high school sweetheart and mother to our spunky three-year-old daughter, Kinley. My husband works full time while I go to school full time and work my work-study job on campus.
Finding affordable child care has been a struggle from the time my daughter was born. That’s why I was a stay at home mom for the first 18 months of my daughter’s life.
When I decided to enroll in school, I knew we would have to come up with another plan. My mother-in-law offered to watch Kinley while I was at school and at work. This has worked well, but my mother-in-law also works full time and late-night shifts. She goes to work around midnight and takes care of our daughter afterwards until either my husband or I get home. Most of the time, this is not until after 5:00 pm.
We know this is not the ideal solution, but this is what has worked for our family. We do not have the income to spend on child care services or to hire a babysitter, but ironically, we make just too much to qualify for child care assistance.
As a future educator, I know the importance of early childhood education for all children for both social and academic development. That’s why I’m glad we were able to enroll Kinley in a preschool program in our community during the school year, but she did struggle. As her mother, it breaks my heart that my own child was already behind her peers because we could not afford to pay tuition for a program prior to this one.
Unfortunately, now that summer is here we are back in the same boat. My husband is working full time, I am working part time, and we are without child care. Luckily, we have an amazing support system and family that is available to watch her while we are working.
But what if we didn’t? It shouldn’t be this hard for hardworking parents to find quality care for their children. All kids deserve the best start in life, so we must keep urging our policymakers to make crucial early childhood education programs, such as child care, easier to access and more affordable for all Americans.