SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — There is a crisis being felt by families across the nation; childcare has become unaffordable and inaccessible.
According to the recent report titled "Our Girls: State of Women and Children," published by the Women Helping Women Fund, right now in Spokane County, there are not enough spots in childcare centers for kids to go to.
This is forcing mothers to decide to put their careers aside and stay home with their kids.
These are the kind of conversations held by Cheney, Washington, couple Rachel and Alex Doblar.
The Doblars moved to the Spokane area four years ago. Alex is in the air force, and Rachel is a nurse. They were ready to settle down.
When their son Boone was born two years ago, they were excited to expand their family, but what Rachel wasn't ready for was the added burden of searching for childcare that worked with their budget and schedules.
"There are not nearly enough centers that work with other people's schedules," Rachel said. "Not everybody works nine to five."
"We had many conversations of 'Oh my gosh, am I gonna have to quit my job?'" Rachel said. "Am I gonna have to leave the career field that I love doing and that I want to continue to do to make a smart decision for our family?"
Ten months later, they found their perfect fit in the form of a nanny but understood they got lucky.
"It completely stops people, especially women, from growing and going to where they want to be and where they can go, Rachel said. "You can do it all if you have the help and resources to do it, which is really hard to come by."
Rachel is nowhere close to being alone in this situation.
KXLY put a call out to Spokane area mothers to share their stories.
Comments ranged from saying childcare would cost more than their rent to saying it would be cheaper to have the parent making less money quit their job than pay for childcare.
Dozens and dozens of Spokane mothers feel stuck in a seemingly broken system.
According to the report, right now in Spokane County, if you have one infant and one preschooler, you are paying, on average, $2,075/month for childcare. In one year, that is $24,900.
In Spokane County, the average salary for a woman who is working full-time is $43,000/year.
This means she would allocate almost 60% of her annual salary to childcare.
Ryan Pricco is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for Child Care Aware Washington, a non-profit helping families and providers.
He said the high rates and long wait lists are all caused by a lack of staffing in the industry and was brought more into focus during the pandemic.
"The bottom line is our child care educators rank in the third percentile of all occupational wages," Pricco said. "They rank below pet groomers and parking lot attendants. So we literally pay people in this state more money to take care of our pets and cars than for our young children."
Data shows that 90% of our brain develops in those first five years and lays the foundation for the rest of our lives.
The world has changed, and most women are no longer content with staying home full-time as they did in the past, which is why Pricco says we need to shift our focus.
"We need to treat childcare educators the same way we treat all the rest of our educators," Pricco said. "We need to use public dollars and recognize that childcare is a public good. When working parents can't access childcare, they can't work, and when they can't work, it's a drag in our economy."
As the Doblars prepare for baby number two, Rachel is still deciding what comes next for her career.
"One of the first thoughts we had was, how are we gonna do this?" Rachel said. "Is it worth it for me to work now?"
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