On Monday, January 29th, Mayor Muriel Bowser hosted a 鈥淒owntown Family Fun Day鈥 at National Children鈥檚 Museum to highlight the District鈥檚 investments to support businesses and create family-friendly programming in Downtown DC. (Ja'Mon Jackson/The 老澳门开奖网 Informer)

For years, Troneice Harrington has struggled to juggle her motherly duties with a full-time job that allows her to support her family. She said that the lack of flexible, affordable childcare plays a significant role in her ongoing dilemma. 

Harrington, a Ward 8 resident and mother of two, spends nearly $400 a month — 15% of her income — on childcare for her five-year-old daughter. While her job at a D.C.-area homeless shelter provides her family some financial stability, she has found it difficult to get to work on time in recent years because of her children鈥檚 morning schedule. 

It soon got to a point where Harrington shortened her work hours during the week in order to drop off her children and pick them up from school and daycare. 

To make up for that lost income, Harrington works at the shelter during the weekend. She also explored the possibility of a night job. Both scenarios, she said, further diminish quality time with her children.

 鈥淚 didn鈥檛 feel like I was playing that mother role for quite some time,鈥 Harrington said.   

As D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and the D.C. Council prepare to deliberate on the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, Harrington and other District parents are demanding greater investments in childcare. Without an expansion of affordable childcare options, it鈥檒l become more difficult to raise her family in the District, Harrington said. 

鈥淚f a person can鈥檛 afford to pay childcare, they need a second job, but then they would need a babysitter,鈥 Harrington told The Informer. 鈥淭he system is broken. I feel like council members hadn鈥檛 been hearing us for so long. We鈥檙e unable to get childcare and no one listens.鈥

A Call for Publicly Funded Early Childcare 

A recently released by the suggests that the lack of affordable, quality childcare has a ripple effect on families, District businesses, and the local economy. It has ushered a call for keeping childcare costs below 10% for D.C. parents, regardless of income. 

The 308 District parents surveyed for the report represented a spectrum of income levels and family sizes, while their racial composition closely reflected local demographics. Three out of four respondents were primary caregivers, while 63% were mothers. 

Nearly all respondents had one or two children. They paid at least $300 of their own funds per week for childcare, which include centers, home-based care, nannies, and informal care. 

According to the report, 52% of respondents had to reduce their regular work hours due to lack of childcare for children under the age of three. Meanwhile, 46% had to turn down opportunities for education and training while 36% turned down a job promotion or desirable assignment. 

Nearly 28% of respondents had to quit a job while 42% were either demoted or transferred to a less desirable position, or fired. 

As overextended parents suffer reductions to their work hours and employability, the local workforce shrinks and businesses lose future earnings, the study said. 

Lower incomes lead to a smaller local and federal tax base and lost future tax revenue. That means that , each year, parents of children under the age of three in D.C. collectively stand to lose $252 million, while businesses and taxpayers lose $79 million and $64 million, respectively.  Additional costs, analysts said in the report, include long-term diminishment of children’s social, emotional and academic development during their early years, further financial costs of unemployment and underemployment via public services, and lower spending on public transportation. 

For , the data serves as a mandate for fully and permanently funding D.C.鈥檚 early education system. 

鈥淲e鈥檙e getting there but we鈥檙e not there yet,鈥 Perry said. 鈥淚t has to be an ongoing, consistent investment [that鈥檚] covered by public funding.鈥

On March 13, Perry counted among several advocates who converged on the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest to demand public investment into early childcare. She told The Informer that such investments would not only build upon legislation that raised wages for early childcare educators and limited how much parents had to pay for childcare, but recent changes to educational credentials for educators and infusion of healthcare benefits. 

It鈥檚 time to normalize early childcare, Perry said. 

鈥淚t鈥檚 so standard for people to think about their children going to free and public school at ages 4 and 5, but the science is clear that learning starts at birth,鈥 she told The Informer. 鈥淲e need to start thinking about early education. It鈥檚 just as much a social good.鈥 

An Unemployed Mother鈥檚 Dilemma 

Danielle Geong, a Northeast resident and mother of one, shared Perry鈥檚 sentiments, telling The Informer that the dearth of flexible and affordable childcare options in the District takes a toll on families. She said alleviating the problem would require employers and high-income earners to take on some of the burden of sustaining and expanding D.C.鈥檚 early childcare system.  

Geong told The Informer that she and her spouse spend 17% of their income — nearly $1,800 a month — on their daughter鈥檚 early education tuition. Her family enrolled her daughter in her current childcare center after being waitlisted at three different centers since 2021, when she was five months pregnant. 

In February, Geong’s situation became a bit more complicated when her contract ended and she became unemployed. She鈥檚 currently searching for a full-time job, telling The Informer that employment would be nearly impossible if not for childcare. 

鈥淐hildcare is the last thing you can cut from your budget. What we鈥檙e paying for is that safety net,鈥 Geong said. 鈥淵ou can鈥檛 reasonably look for a job with a two-year-old running around your house. Without childcare, it鈥檚 impossible to participate in the workforce. It鈥檚 the only thing that makes it possible for us to advance our careers and get by in this city.鈥

Sam P.K. Collins has nearly 20 years of journalism experience, a significant portion of which he gained at The 老澳门开奖网 Informer. On any given day, he can be found piecing together a story, conducting...

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