Battling for Subsidized Child Care

On May 14, 2012, members of Empower DC’s Child Care for All Campaign along with their children-otherwise known as the BABY BRIGADE-visited the Wilson Building to educate the city council on the importance of the child care subsidy/voucher program and the challenges community-based child care centers are having on a day to day basis to keep their businesses running.  The child care subsidy/voucher program is a federally funded program that was designed to subsidize child care for working families and parents that want to continue their education or seek employment.

As we visited council office after council office with our babies, we were puzzled as to why no one really cared about child care. We got the same answers over and over, “we are focused on getting extra money for the TANF program so that we can get these 6,000 families assessed and back to work or school.”  No one even stopped to think that most or all of those TANF families will need subsidized child care to go back to work or school. Even with working parents, providers and teen parents from Anacostia’s New Heights Teen Parents Program expressing the challenges we’ve had finding available slots for our children in child care centers, making ends meet and completing the intake process, we were still unable to get solid support on restoring the budget for child care and making the intake process more accessible.

Despite our efforts, the mayor’s proposed $5.7 million dollar cut from the child care subsidy voucher program was voted into law on June 5, 2012.  This budget cut will affect about 400 hundred families who won’t have access to a voucher or will be in jeopardy of loosing their voucher. The budget cut will also make it even harder for community-based and family child development centers contracted by the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) to operate and provide quality child care.  Mainly the community-based centers will suffer.

It is very clear that the mayor and the city council don’t know or understand the value of early care and education BEFORE KINDERGARTEN! So, it is our job as parents, providers and community members to work harder to educate these city officials and stand up and advocate for our little people. They are our future leaders and we have to make sure they have the proper tools and support they need to be successful. LISTEN UP!!! DC DOESN’T WORK WITHOUT CHILD CARE!!! SO, LET’S STRENGTHEN OUR COMMUNITIES AND SUPPORT COMMUNITY-BASED CHILD CARE CENTERS!!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8Nevv_eR8g[/youtube]In addition to lobbying the council in their offices, Child Care for All Campaign members Sequnely Gray, Toneisha Johnson and Shantise Summers also testified during the city council’s budget hearing on human services. Coucilmember Jim Graham, Chair of the Committee on Human Services, seemed to agree that the intake process needs improvement. On the otherhand, his implication that providing a subsidy so that parents can meet their child care needs is like providing substance abuse treatment to drug addicts is nuts. In the District of Columbia, child care typically costs $18,200 per year, per child. You don’t have to be anything like a drug addict to need help meeting those costs.

For more information and/or to join Empower DC’s Child Care For All Campaign, contact Sequnely Gray at childcare@empowerdc.org or call 202-234-9119 ext. 103.

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