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The Painful Price of Great Childcare

I waited two years to get my son into this daycare. It is NAEYC-accredited! Great teachers, good classroom size, a real child development center. the price was even lower than what I had been paying at one of those chain centers - plus it was a monthly fee instead of a weekly fee (meaning that all months are the same cost regardless of whether they have five weeks or four, which is much easier to fit into a budget). Then I found out that I was pregnant with twins. Miracle of miracles, this wonderful center would have two spots opening up exactly when the twins were 8 weeks old! the baby room has only four spots total, so this was amazing. Then i got the price. I think I had a small heart attack. Even with the multiple child discount, three full time children (two babies and one three year old) still cost 2300 dollars a month. That was 56% of my take home pay! I knew the state had a child care assistance program - i figured I had to be eligible - but no, i make too much money. after five months and burning through my entire savings account, I changed my status at work to part time so I could stay home with the kids and offset some daycare. Now, I'm the sole wage-earner in my home - my husband is a full-time student at UW. Child care costs were still 53% of my income - 1116 a month. I was SURE i would qualify for some state child care assistance now... but no. Since my husband didnt have a job, we weren't eligible - they don't count working towards a bachelors degree as a reasonable use of time. In addition, even if he were to work, his income is garnished for child support, so he would need to be working more than full time to bring home enough money. after 6 financially painful weeks, I had to return to full time work in order to keep a roof over our heads and our bills paid. I was lucky to be able to adjust my workweek to a compressed four-tens schedule - i now pay only 1900 a month for daycare... we're down to 46% of my income. We don't have family in the area who can watch the kids, and most places cost more than mine. I'm trying to keep my family afloat, but I am barely managing with my salary. If you think about it, my daycare costs put my income level (at least what's free for living and providing for my children) under the poverty line. It's scary for me every month.
—JenniferWA
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