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'Day Without Child Care' highlights systemic issues in affordable care

Jordyn Rossignol reads the children's book "Love the World" to kids at Miss Jordyn's Child Care and Preschool in Caribou. Credit: Hannah Catlin / St. John Valley Times
Hannah Catlin
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St. John Valley Times/Bangor Daily News
Jordyn Rossignol reads the children's book "Love the World" to kids at Miss Jordyn's Child Care and Preschool in Caribou. Credit: Hannah Catlin / St. John Valley Times

The sun was shining Monday afternoon as kids at YWCA Central Maine's childcare programs made their way outside, enjoying face-painting and crafts set up for a "Day Without Child Care." A nationwide effort, the day aims to emphasize the systemic issues in the child care industry, and the need for federal support.

Carrie Jadud is a community organizer with the Maine People's Alliance.

"Child care should be basic infrastructure —you are able to get to work because we have roads and bridges, so you don't really think about it, you just go on them, right? And we can do the same thing with child care, that is just a basic economic infrastructure," she said.

Jadud said child care should be funded like other infrastructure- instead of placing the cost entirely on parents, which leaves families struggling to afford care and providers struggling to afford wages for staff.

The goal of Monday's event was to show parents who are struggling to find and afford care that they are not alone, Jadud said. It's not a personal failing, but a nationwide issue.

She said child care is a public issue, and should be treated as such.

"It's something affects all of us, even if people don't have young children themselves at this moment," Jadud said. "This affects our whole economy when people can't participate or can't participate in the ways that they really are called to do."

She said that while expansions to childcare worker stipends and family child care scholarships are a step in the right direction, the industry needs ongoing federal support.

Amanda Hatch, chief program and impact officer at the YWCA, said their child care programs are all full, with waitlists. And they often hear from families struggling to find an affordable option, especially as more providers have closed since the pandemic.

But Hatch said even though the YWCA is a larger, more established child care program, funding is always a concern. And supporting infrastructure for the industry would make that a lot easier.

"Just so that we weren't always searching for the next dollar, or worried about how that was gonna impact the families who are already paying a lot for care and really would struggle to pay more for care," Hatch said.

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.