My family spent over $18,000 on child care for our two daughters last year. That’s about what a down payment on a family home costs in our area.

Even in the best of times, my community of Kennebunk has a severe day care shortage. And child care has become even less accessible – not to mention more expensive – in the age of COVID. Parents have to pick a day care based on spots available and cost, not the quality of the program or fit for their family.

My husband works for a paper manufacturer and I work in marketing at a cedar log home-building company. Like most parents, we have to arrange for our kids to be cared for while we work. Even with our 8-year-old in school for most of the day, we still need to pay for after-school care, as well as for a full day of care for our 3½-year-old.

During Maine’s lockdown last year, our daughters’ day care closed for eight weeks. My husband and I were both fortunate to be able to work from home during that time, but we had to make hard choices regarding our child care situation.

We knew that – even though the child care center was closed – if we didn’t pay for those two months, our daughters would likely end up losing their spots in day care.

And with the shortage of day care in Kennebunk, there was no guarantee that we’d be able to find child care for them elsewhere. Our options were to pay thousands of dollars extra for child care that we couldn’t use, or leave my job to care for our kids. Ultimately we decided to pay for the unused day care.


Even now, our daughters could be sent home from day care or school at any time, if a teacher or classmate falls ill from COVID. If that happens, we have to keep paying not only for the day care that we’re not using, but also for emergency child care, which is even more expensive.

I know that my family is not the only one experiencing these problems.

Too often, when families cannot find or afford child care, women have to leave the workforce, losing their income and benefits in the process. I love my career. But without affordable child care options, I would be one of the women quitting my job. And when women leave their careers, it’s not only financially stressful for families that have to rely on two incomes, but also bad for the economy.

The Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act would address these problems weighing down American families. It would guarantee access to child care by providing universal pre-K to all 3- and 4-year-olds, as well as making child care subsidies available to low- and middle-income households. It would be the most substantial investment in American families in a generation. Not only that, but the Build Back Better Act would guarantee a one-year extension of the monthly child tax credit, which has done so much to ease our worries about child care.

Our child tax credit payments, which started in July, have fully paid for our oldest child’s after-school care. They have also given us the peace of mind to know that we have money to pay any emergency child care costs, such as if our daughters’ day cares temporarily shut down. In short, if this bill passes, the child tax credit will help keep me in my job.

Congress needs to pass this bill and follow through on its commitment to American families, especially working women. Hard-working mothers should not have to choose between paying exorbitant child care costs and giving up our careers.

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