Last Friday was my daughter’s last day in her pre-k program. We found the program when we bought our house in 2019, a much simpler time, pre-pandemic. We toured a couple local centers, but ultimately fell in love with this one because of their play-based learning curriculum, the inclusion of nature in the program, and the amazing teachers.
When the pandemic started our center closed for two weeks. Like most everyone, we felt overwhelmed trying to switch to remote work while balancing remote learning for our older son. My husband was laid off and we were all stuck at home together, worried about what was going to happen next. Ultimately, we had to remove our daughter from the child care center that we loved so much because we couldn’t afford to pay for care that we weren’t receiving.
Like most everyone, we felt overwhelmed trying to switch to remote work while balancing remote learning for our older son.
We spent over a year at home together, managing Zoom math lessons, job changes, constant anxiety and big feelings about why we couldn’t do the things we used to do. The love and respect that grew for my child care providers was at an all time high because I had realized how much I had come to rely on them, almost as co-parents, for our kids.
And at the same time, they were fighting big battles of their own. Our provider reopened their doors a few months after the pandemic had started, arguably one of the scariest times to have little ones in an enclosed space, especially since vaccines were not widely available yet. They managed to keep their center open through staffing crises, unpredictable income, continuous exposure to COVID-19, all alongside the trauma of the pandemic. In my opinion, the real MVP award goes to them.
More than a year, a job change and some vaccines later, we were ready to send our daughter back to pre-k. They had a slot for her, and they were welcoming us back with open arms after all that had happened. The next year was filled with tremendous growth, learning and love.
Artwork courtesy of young artist in residence...our residence.
I’m disappointed that our members of Congress, those we choose to elect and represent us, have continued to deny federal investment in quality child care for our children. While temporary COVID-19 funding put a bandaid over the leak of existing issues exacerbated by a global pandemic, a more permanent solution is needed. Every child deserves affordable, accessible, quality childcare and Pre-K opportunities regardless of race, zip code, ability, identity, or any other factor, and without significant buy-in and investment from our government, this may never become a reality.
The next year was filled with tremendous growth, learning and love.
For us (and I suspect for most), child care wasn’t just a safe place for our daughter to be during the day - it was more people in her life to love her, care for her, help identify her rashes, tackle tough behaviors, and build her first version of community. On her last day, we said goodbye and as we closed the door she said “so many people love me!” And that’s all I could have ever wanted.