‘It’s really a crisis now’: Sen. Tim Kaine on childcare concerns in New River Valley

About two dozens people attended discussion

BLACKSBURG, Va. – “We’re going to see an uptick in these rates,” said parent Andi Golusky, sharing her childcare concerns with United States Sen. Tim Kaine. ”The cost is a concern of mine.”

She’s mother of two young children and at least has childcare.

On Friday though, the lack of it in the New River Valley was a big focus of a modified roundtable with Kaine.

“I felt really hopeful that Senator Kaine will be able to take back some of this information. It sounds like they are aware that this is a huge issue,” said Golusky.

Congress reconvenes on Monday for a three-week session.

Sen. Tim Kaine (center, standing) talks with parents, educators, childcare providers and employers Friday. (Copyright 2020 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

Kaine wants to make childcare programs a priority in the new coronavirus relief bill that lawmakers will be working on.

“You don’t need to create a new program, but take advantage of one and grow it. The Child Care and Development Block Grant is a fund that is a well-known allocation of money to each state,” said Kaine. “Childcare was short before COVID, it’s really a crisis now.”

The Center for American Progress described the New River Valley as a childcare desert.

Kaine’s hope is for legislation to be ready by Aug. 5.

“It should have these childcare monies in it. If we can do that, the states will get the money and can allocate them out,” Kaine said.

Friday’s event was hosted by the Community Foundation of the New River Valley.

Executive Director Jessica Wirgau said there is still a lot of uncertainty about what childcare in the NRV will look like when the new school year begins.

“The pandemic is really exacerbating issues that we are already seeing and have been working on,” said Wirgau.

For parents, that’s the last thing they need ahead of what will likely be a challenging school year regardless.

“There’s a whole lot of concerns in the NRV for all kinds of families because of this situation,” Golusky said.