Written by Executive Director Claire Louge
When I close the door of my toddler Kira’s classroom after dropping her off in the morning, I find myself exhaling a breath I didn’t know I was holding in.
That exhale isn’t just relief for the conclusion of the chaos that is getting an almost-2-year-old ready and out the door. It’s also the relief that she’s in competent, caring hands. In that breath is also a deep reverence for the endurance, patience, and skillfulness of child care providers.
These professionals are not only constantly changing diapers, offering snacks and lunch, and keeping their students safe from their own impulses to explore the physics of the world around them – which honestly, I find challenging with one toddler in even the most ideal of circumstances – they are also supporting these children to understand their emotions, grow the skills to build relationships, and learn the foundational things they need to become thoughtful, purposeful human beings.
I’m totally in awe of them.
Within that awe, however, is an unsettling feeling. I am keenly aware that my and my partner’s ability to support our family depends on our child care providers. And they were hard to find.
I remember the panic I felt when my maternity leave was almost over. We had put ourselves on five waitlists for child care, but no spot had yet opened for Kira.
I was lucky that my mother could fly out for a few weeks to care for Kira before we got an open spot. I was lucky I have a job where I can work from home and set my own schedule. I was lucky that I live in an urban area where there are many child care options. I am lucky we have the income to afford child care.
It’s unsettling that my family’s stability, in large part, depends on this luck. Luck is not a dependable strategy. And it certainly shouldn’t be our state’s strategy for supporting the stability of our economy, which depends on the ability of adults who have children to work.
Without a long-term investment in child care, we’re just hoping parents figure it out. And when they can’t figure it out, because all they have are bad options or no options at all, our state is paying big money for the consequences of our lack of family support.
Make no mistake: I am at work because of child care providers.
Make no mistake: Arizona works because of child care providers.
Arizona’s prosperity, stability, and safety depends on child care providers. We cannot ignore this reality.
Today, for most of us, the growing cost of living necessitates that all parents in the household work. The future, for all of us, depends on children having a strong foundation to grow into competent, productive adults. Our now and our tomorrow depends on child care providers.
Understanding this, Governor Katie Hobbs has allocated $100 million this year in her proposed state budget to sustain child care in Arizona and prevent our child care infrastructure from crumbling. We’ll be tracking House Bill 2266, introduced by Representative Analise Ortiz, which would approve this critical proposed investment. When it’s time for them to vote on this bill, make sure your legislators know: Make no mistake, Arizona depends on child care.