In today’s installment of We Are MomsRising, we talked to Melissa in Pennsylvania about what it is like to find childcare. Read her story below. To learn more about the We Are MomsRising campaign, check out this blog post.
As a single mom of a toddler who was starting over in a small town with very little support, childcare was the biggest hurdle to clear in order to support myself without government assistance.
At the time there was assistance, but there was also a waiting list that was years long. I was doing restaurant work and I remember thinking, “how do single mothers work a 9 to 5 job if they have no one to watch their children? How are they even able to afford to take the job?”
I eventually left the restaurant job for part-time work in an office. I was basically working for free because the $8 an hour I was making went directly to childcare. I still needed food stamps and energy assistance to get by. I was lucky and ended up working through it but not everyone can. How are people on assistance supposed to get by when they are a single parent and you have children that need to be taken care of while you work? And even once you start working full time and your income goes up, all of your money goes to childcare because you no longer qualify for assistance. It is a complete trap. Getting assistance is helping empower people. It helps them get a job and keep it.
You go get a job in an office, make some money, and now you can’t qualify for food stamps anymore and everything is going to childcare. Even when they go to school, they still need aftercare, you might need before care. And that is expensive.
When I got a full time job, over 50% of my income went to daycare and 30% went to rent. We got through those years on a shoestring budget. It was important for me to look towards the long term and dive back in to that crappy starter job knowing that I would move up eventually. I knew that I could move my daughter into a better daycare eventually. I made decisions always thinking about the long term. Yeah in the short term we could never go out to eat or I could never buy her the clothes or toys I wanted, but long term we will have a better life.
When you are a parent, single or married, your career tends to revolve around if you can get childcare or not. It is almost like you have to get the care then line up the interview for the job.