Working Mom Forced Out of Workforce Due to Child Care Costs
Before having children, Providence resident Kristen Garvin earned her Master’s degree in Psychology and opened a private practice as a licensed therapist, an undertaking she describes as “a business I loved, with clients I loved.” After having her second child three years ago, the high cost of child care for two children forced her and her husband Greg Garvin to make the difficult decision to close her business so she could stay home as a primary caregiver. “I worked really hard to get my degree and my license and start my business. It’s work that I enjoy. It was the decision we had to make as a family, but it felt unfair,” said Kristen.
Kristen and Greg’s daughter was in a full-time preschool until the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, and she’s spent the past 14 months at home with her parents and younger brother. While the family has enjoyed the time together, Kristen worries that their kids have fallen behind at home, without the benefit of learning in a setting with peers. “I know the crucial role that the first five years of life play in a child’s educational and professional path. It has a profound impact,” said Kristen. “I’m concerned about the missed opportunities due to her absence from school. We’re doing as much as we can at home, but will it be enough? She has to learn in the real world outside our home and problem solve with other kids. She’s missed opportunities this year to learn and to grow in a way that only a child care setting can offer her.”
The Garvins have been reflecting on what would help families like theirs, where the cost of high-quality child care is greater than one parent’s income. “I would like to see a voucher system, for money to stay with the child or with the family, and let the parents decide what kind of child care works for them the best, “ said Greg. “Ultimately that gives families the flexibility to make a decision that fits their schedule and their needs.”
Kristen and Greg hope to enroll both children in an early childhood education setting in the near future so that Kristen can return to work. They hope that state leaders and lawmakers grasp the importance of the first five years of life, and invest resources into supporting young children and their families so that their parents can work, contributing to both their family’s financial security, as well as Rhode Island’s economy.