Working to Pay
As a non-profit professional who makes a fair wage, I know that I am fortunate to have a job in this economy that I like. And as mom who works outside of the home, I know that I am even more fortunate to have a daycare on-site at my job where I can visit my daughter anytime I want. Really, it's just a great situation overall. Well, except for one little thing. Okay, one big thing. Paying for daycare is putting me in the poorhouse.
I didn't realize how much daycare really cost until right before my daughter was born. There was never a question about where she would attend because I knew I wanted her with me, so I didn't inquire about prices until right before I left for maternity leave. When I was given a price sheet, and I thought the weekly rates were monthly rates, I thought about giving notice to my job right then! I knew there was no way that I would be able to pay what they were asking. Fortunately, my job began offering a 30% discount in the daycare as part of our employee benefits while I was on maternity leave, so I was able to afford the expense. Barely. Even with the discount, it still takes about a third of my salary to cover the cost.
I could use some help, and although help is out there, it doesn't apply to me. The Child Care Information Services of Philadelphia (CCIS) offers subsidies to help working parents pay for childcare. Their income eligibility guidelines are more reasonable than most other state or federally funded programs, but, like most other state or federally funded programs, they don't take anything except for gross income into consideration. They don't look at the fact that I'm paying health insurance for my daughter and myself, or the cost of housing, electric, or food. They don't even take the amount of taxes that get deducted from my check into consideration. Oh, and even if I did qualify, there is a 7 or 8 month wait for new families to receive funding. Except of course if you receive public assistance and you find a job (at least 20 hours a week) or start school, then you're bumped to the top of the list. When the Counselor at CCIS explained all of this to me, I said to her, "I wonder if I should just quit because I don't know if I can afford to work." She replied, "You wouldn't be the first."Continued on the next page