Struggling To Find Affordable, Quality Child Care: Emily’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 Emily’s story:

Accessing affordable, high-quality childcare has been a struggle for my family as we have navigated through the pandemic and remains difficult for many people even now as we are slowly coming out of the pandemic. When searching for a program to bring my infant daughter in early 2021, each place we looked at had a waitlist of at least a few months, and even then, they were not feasible, affordable options for us. We felt that in order to enroll her in a center, we’d have to either make an exception to the standard of quality we were willing to accept or pay way more than we would have been able to budget. We ultimately ended up keeping her at home with us as long as possible, as my husband was working from home full-time and I was working from home several days a week. Juggling work responsibilities in addition to giving our daughter our full attention was very difficult and left us both feeling like we couldn’t give 100% to her or to our jobs.

Our son was born in October of 2022, and I was set to return to work at the end of December. Unfortunately, the program my daughter has been attending since mid-2021 did not have a spot for our son until the end of January. Once again, we were in a tough situation in which I had to return to work remotely (thanks to my employer for being so flexible and understanding) while also caring for my son until he was able to attend. This time, however, I was almost completely on my own, as my husband now works outside of the house. Between generous grandparents and friends of our family, we were able to make it work temporarily when I needed to leave the house for work or appointments before he was enrolled in child care. Balancing working from home, caring for my baby almost completely alone, and maintaining household responsibilities, all simultaneously, took a toll on my mental health for the brief period before we had child care. We were so fortunate to be able to get him in so quickly, but many families aren’t so lucky. I cannot fathom having to balance all of those things without having any relief in sight.

We are beyond grateful for campaigns like RIght from the Start, which advocates for families like ours that struggle with accessing child care without sacrificing our entire paychecks or the quality our children deserve.

Emily Grant Souza