Struggling To Find Affordable, Quality Child Care: Elizabeth’s Story

9 out of 10 families in Rhode Island lack access to affordable, reliable, quality child care. We partnered with the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island to help parents share their stories. Here’s Elizabeth’s story:

My name is Elizabeth Polanco and I am a parent of three beautiful children. Obtaining childcare has been a struggle for me and my family for years. When I had Eliana, who is now 14 years old, I applied for childcare assistance and was denied for not meeting the income eligibility requirements. As a single parent not having access to affordable and quality childcare became a daily challenge. It was a moment of many uncertainties and frustration. The current structure of our childcare system creates a domino effect that negatively impacts many areas of life. How was I going to go to work without having childcare? Was I going to lose my job and if so, how would I be able to maintain my household without an income? I ended up asking my mother to care for her and was lucky to have my mother’s support during this difficult time.

Years later, now with Saeliz (who is 5-years old), I applied to the pre-k lottery application and fortunately was selected to enroll my child, but I am faced today with the same predicament of not having access to childcare assistance for my 2-year-old Joel. I do not meet the income eligibility benchmark. Joel is being cared by my aunt whom I’ve paid out of pocket since he was born. This is a financial strain for my family and I and not to mention my frustration to know my child is not receiving the quality childcare to help his social and emotional development. Having access to childcare assistance would have such a positive impact for my family and me. Having access to childcare would mean Joel would have a wonderful opportunity to learn and develop alongside other children of his age. It would also mean a stable work schedule for my husband and I to manage daily and his would mean the world to us!