Several times in my years of working while putting myself through college, or working to start my freelancing career, the reason for this stress has been not qualifying for any form of child care assistance and not being able to afford it on my own.
It’s not a problem reserved for single parents. Working families throughout Missoula struggle to find affordable care, and it’s something Grace Decker at Child Care Resources has been trying to address for a long time. Decker’s spent 20 years in child care and early education, serves on the board of trustees at Missoula County Public Schools and, for the last four years, has helped Missoula parents pay for care through CCR. She’s seen the problem from every angle.
“Child care availability in Missoula is at crisis proportions,” she recently wrote on social media. “At the same time child care workers are paid starvation wages, literally, and several large programs have closed over the past couple of years. It’s a huge problem. And yet we treat it as though it’s each individual family’s personal private problem.”
That last sentence rings true, though I’d never realized how much. As a single mother for almost a decade, I am not a stranger to difficulties in finding any kind of child care, and long ago knew that places like Montessori schools and other high-quality programs would not be available to my family because of the high cost of tuition. But good luck finding an affordable program in Missoula that accepts babies.
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