America has a child care crisis. Biden wants to spend billions to fix it: NPR

Crystal Rogers first opened the Cozy Couch family daycare at her home 13 years ago. Most of the children who attend her daycare in Martinsburg, W.Va., are the children of essential workers.

Andrea Hsu / NPR


hide caption

toggle legend

Andrea Hsu / NPR


Crystal Rogers first opened the Cozy Couch family daycare at her home 13 years ago. Most of the children who attend her daycare in Martinsburg, W.Va., are the children of essential workers.

Andrea Hsu / NPR

Crystal Rogers, owner of Cozy Couch Family Day Care in Martinsburg, W.Va., finally feels appreciated. It took the pandemic for this to happen.

For too long, she says, society has despised daycare centers – as somehow less worthy than school. And no wonder. Child care is one of the lowest paid professions in America.

“We’re not babysitters… I meant that,” Rogers said. “We attend training. We do everything a professional child care provider does. “

The educators, almost all women, teach, nurture and care for children from early childhood until they are ready to go to school while their parents are at work. It’s hard work, says Rogers, and also essential.

Today, child care is seen as essential to economic recovery. Since last year, Congress has released an historic $ 50 billion in relief funds for the industry.

And President Biden wants that level of investment to continue. As part of his US Plan for Families, he has asked Congress for $ 225 billion over 10 years to make child care affordable or even free for working parents. He wants to raise the wages of those working in the industry to at least $ 15 an hour.

Democrats have responded with a budget framework that includes $ 726 billion for priorities targeting education and families, including universal preschool and child care.

Many families at this daycare did not have to pay for childcare during the pandemic

For Rogers, it’s already clear what a difference a big investment like this would make. In a way, this is already happening in West Virginia, thanks to federal relief funds.

She charges $ 150 per week for babies up to 2 years old and $ 125 per week for children 2 to 12 years old.

But most of the families whose children attend her Cozy Couch family daycare did not have to pay anything during the pandemic. This is because West Virginia has covered the entire cost of child care for essential workers since March 2020. Parents who use this child care include nurses and grocers.

The state has always subsidized child care services to some extent. And some of the parents here are eligible for grants even before the pandemic, depending on their income. But the state is now paying Rogers more per child than it has ever paid in the past – a pandemic premium that is expected to continue until the end of 2022.

“They kept us afloat,” Rogers said. “They did us well, and they still do us well.”

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Rogers also received several state grants, in part to stay open. She used the extra money to buy more things for the kids, like books, puzzles, and blocks, and to give bonuses to her staff.

But she knows that the injection of money is temporary. And that worries him.

“When it gets back to normal, whatever normal is, a lot of us are going to take a hit,” she said.

Labor shortages indicate wages are still too low

Uncertainties over future funding prevent many daycares from significantly increasing wages, which would help them find workers.

A recent survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that four in five daycares were struggling with staff shortages.

The group CEO Rhian Evans Allvin says to imagine you are a daycare teacher, where “I do high impact, high intensity work for less money than I could make milkshakes at Burger King.”

“It’s not rocket science to understand why we can’t get the workforce back,” she said.

Latoya Beatty, owner of Little Pandas Learn-N-Play in Martinsburg, W.Va., has struggled to hire daycare educators. She recently increased her starting salary from $ 10 to $ 12 an hour.

Andrea Hsu / NPR


hide caption

toggle legend

Andrea Hsu / NPR


Latoya Beatty, owner of Little Pandas Learn-N-Play in Martinsburg, W.Va., has struggled to hire daycare educators. She recently increased her starting salary from $ 10 to $ 12 an hour.

Andrea Hsu / NPR

Latoya Beatty, owner of Little Pandas Learn-N-Play in Martinsburg, has struggled to hire all summer, and she blames all the stimulus money in the federal government’s pandemic bailouts.

“I just feel like staffing has been more difficult because people are getting so much money from the government,” she says.

She held talks just to get up. She hired people who quit a week or two later. She increased the starting salary from $ 10 an hour to $ 12 in hopes of attracting talent. This brought in a few more nominations, but it didn’t completely resolve his staffing issues.

With many employers – from CVS and Chipotle to Amazon – all raising their wages, it faces stiff competition for workers. So she wants to increase wages to $ 15 an hour, but right now it’s a stretch for her business.

Back at Cozy Couch, Rogers is also worried about competition for workers, but mostly her family members, including her own mother.

“Obviously, I don’t see her turning her back on me,” she laughs. “She will stay with me.

Source link

About Hector Hedgepeth

Hector Hedgepeth

Check Also

How to help your overmedicated parent

Dear wise elder, My 75-year-old mom is currently taking 16 different prescription and over-the-counter medications, …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *