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The author and her son in front of the then 1-year-old's old child care center. The center closed abruptly due to financial difficulties.

To-wen Tseng's picture

A few weeks ago, my nail artist came back to work from maternity leave. I was so excited to have my nails done for the first time in months but that excitement was drained away when she told me her child care problem.

Shanna, my nail artist who prefers not to use her last name, asked me if I had any recommendations for child care before she was gone for maternity leave a few months ago. Since moms depend on word of mouth to find child care, I’ve recommended the day care where my two children, now ten and six, happily ensconced themselves for eight years in total to many moms. I’ve always been glad to do that because we were genuinely happy with that child care.

But Shanna told me that this particular day care center now charged nearly $800 per week, why more than she could afford. I was shocked because I remember I used to pay a little more than $500 per week. I simply couldn’t believe the price went up like that.

Shanna then told me the horror story about how some “cheaper” child care center in our community closed unexpectedly, leaving parents horrified. I could totally imagine that because the same thing happened to me when my now 10-year-old was in his first day care. After nine years, I still vividly remember the shock when receiving the phone call from the daycare that the center was closing in three days.

So parents have two choices: either pay the sky high price for child care or be subject to the risk of unexpected day care center closure.

And the case in my community was not isolated—over the past year, we’ve seen many stories like this. From Fox News to NBC News, media outlets from different states tell the same tale of daycare closing abruptly, leaving parents scrambling and teachers unpaid.

I’ve been covering family policy for over ten years, and I know that child care has been an industry on the brink for decades. I’ve experienced it firsthand as a mother. And the Covid-19 pandemic only exacerbated its structural problems.

With the child care mess, it’s no exaggeration to say that America’s mothers are in crisis. Luckily, someone is listening to us. Right now, both Republicans and Democrats are working on legislation meant to help parents with child care costs.

And there is something we as mothers can do to give them a nudge: this week the Congress is in recess and lawmakers are back in their district, and this is a perfect time to make our voice heard that moms across the country want better child care policies.

Throughout the entire week, Beacons and Hub Leaders of MomsRising are sharing their child care struggles, as well as elder care and other care struggles, on multiple social media platforms. This April, moms across the country are telling Congress that April Showers Can Bring Moms Power! Rain Down Care Policies so that Families and the Economy can Bloom! Follow @MomsRising and #MomPower on social media to learn more and join the movement.

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