Infant care for one child would take up to 18.2% of a median family’s income in Virginia, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Affording child care, in general, is hard on many parents.
“My youngest two did go to daycare for a little while, and the price when they went—which was 4-5 years ago to now—is outrageous,” said April Siler who is working part-time so she can watch two of her kids.
With current prices, some parents are having to make the tough decision whether or not to put their kids in child care.
“I only get to work 25 hours a week because I can only work when they’re in school and less than that when they have early dismissal and days when they’re out,” she added.
There are resources for those who can’t afford child care, including the Child Care Subsidy Program.
“It helps people with low income that would really not be able to afford child care to afford child care,” said Mike Elmore, the family services child care supervisor of the Department of Social Services.
Until last year, some families who needed assistance couldn’t qualify. But as of March 2021, the Child Care Subsidy Program has expanded to include higher incomes than before.
“I think some of those people who were not eligible previously have reapplied. With this expanded eligibility we’re meeting the needs of middle-class families too,” added Elmore.
Cost is one factor when deciding where to send your child, but parents are also looking for more options, particularly when school is out.
“Maybe the state would take more of an initiative to come out with summer programs or when the schools are closed, a program where the kids can still be in a safe place,” said Siler.