ROANOKE, Va. – The coronavirus pandemic has created new families who were already struggling financially, especially when trying to find affordable childcare, but new legislation and federal funding could help change that.
“Many families have to decide sometimes whether they’re going to pay for childcare, or if they’re going to put food on the table,” Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of the Roanoke Valley Vivien McMahan said.
Working with families to find affordable childcare in the Roanoke Valley is something United Way has done for years.
But 2020 brought an entirely new set of challenges the nonprofit hadn’t seen before.
“There was a core group of people that still needed childcare and we found it woefully lacking in our community,” CEO/President of United Way of the Roanoke Valley Abby Hamilton said.
More than 40% of households in the Roanoke region struggled financially before the pandemic even started. So new statewide legislation signed Wednesday is aiming to change that.
“We are launching a pilot program to include three-year old’s in our state preschool programs, and we’re dedicating $8 million to increase pay equity for early childhood educators,” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said.
That combined with a new statewide subsidized childcare program announced early this year means thousands of Virginian’s qualify for some form of aid.