Her Recession: Proposed bills aim to make child care more affordable, get people back to work

SPOKANE, Wash. – Parents have dreams for their kids as they grow up.

Before becoming a mom, Ivi Sanabria had her own dreams as she immigrated from El Salvador. Many goals include having your own home, dreams of doing better in life and dreams of a family.

Sanabria and her husband worked for their dreams.

She then had her son, and being a mom also meant having to make sacrifices.

“It was hard in the beginning,” Sanabria told 4 News Now.

It was difficult for her to choose between working and growing with her company, or spending most of her income on child care.

“I realized it wasn’t enough money that I was bringing home. I had to leave my job to take care of my son for a few years until he started school,” she said.

Sanabria said quitting her job for those few years set her and her husband back years economically. Money was tight for a while.

As an immigrant, it was hard for her, too, since they didn’t have family around to help watch the kids while they worked.

Sanabria’s working again, now helping kids in a child care facility. But before landing that job, she was out of work, too. She had to be home for her son, who is now 14, so he could learn remotely.

“We didn’t know what was coming. It was a hard time. I had to stop working for about five months until my husband changed work,” she said. “We figured something out.”

Working in the child care facility, Sanabria gets a discount for her daughter. If she didn’t have that, she told 4 News Now she would’ve made the same decision after trying to figure something else out.

“It is high, the prices are high,” she said.

Families are spending roughly around a thousand dollars a month for child care, if not more.

It’s a cost Rebecca Lee keeps in mind. Lee owns Green Gable Children’s Learning Centers.

“We always have to remember that families are paying this out of pocket,” she said.

There are programs to help pay for child care, such as subsidies from the government, as well as the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, but there are requirements for each program. Federal poverty lines have to be met for some programs.

Some families are stuck in limbo, as they make a little more than the requirements, but are still in need of some help.

Child care centers are facing issues as well, needing to make sure they can keep running while also ensuring kids are getting the education and care they need.

“The cost to create a quality program is enormous. You’re trying to find teachers that have great experience, that have excellent education,” Lee said.

Costs went up for them, too, especially with COVID. Lee says she now has to spend thousands of dollars she didn’t before to make sure kids and staff stay healthy and clean.

RELATED: Washington task force suggests policy changes for families struggling to afford child care

There are currently two bills in the Washington legislature, hoping to help families and those working in child care.

It’s called the Fair Start for Kids Act, which were both introduced in the House and Senate.

For families, it wants to help reduce co-pays for child care, either eliminating it for some low-income families or capping it at a certain price. Right now, those co-pays could range from $30 to a couple hundred, Lee said.

The bill also wants to increase subsidies for families who need them.

For child care providers, the bill wants to help stabilize the industry to help families afford it.

The bill also hopes to expand access to affordable health care for workers, along with giving more grants to providers.

The dream is to have more spots open and places available for families at an appropriate cost so more people can head back to work.

The Washington State Commerce’s Child Care Collaborative Task Force says more than 133,000 potential people are out of the workforce because people can’t afford child care.

Sanabria is just one person who found a way to make it work for her, helping kids now, including her own.

“I’m happy to be part of the solution. I’m happy to help kids to grow up and just try to make a better person for the future,” she said.

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