The child care center that Michelle McFaul runs in Union, West Virginia has been around for 40 years. Just keeping it open has been an achievement.
The union sits on the mountainous and rural southeastern border of the state. with the whole country poverty rate which is about 38% higher than the national average and a Average income About 39% less, almost no one can afford to pay more for babysitting there. Three-fourths of the children at the center get government subsidies. Others may benefit from assistance, but they are not eligible, as the grandparent is their primary custodian (resulting in opioid epidemic)
These factors limit tuition revenue, McFaul pointed out, and it’s often difficult to cover expenses with the center’s annual operating budget of about $200,000. “There were several days,” she said, “when I said, ‘Okay, how am I going to make payroll? How am I going to make mortgage payments, cover taxes?'”
Nevertheless, McFall has managed to establish a center that meets the quality standards for the state’s Tier Two accreditation. Only a handful of providers in southern West Virginia have that status, which entitles the center to higher subsidy payments. McFall does this with the help of dedicated activists, some of whom have received specialized training in early childhood development and have been with them for more than 10 years. It has also established a curriculum that public schools elsewhere in the state offer as part of their pre-kindergarten programs, for 3 and 4 year olds.
There are entire counties that do not have child care centers at all.
Kelly Allen, West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy
Right now, the center is at capacity, with 60 children. More than a dozen are on the waiting list. This is just one sign of the need for more child care in the county, which has only one other state-accredited center for a population of about 13,000. With more money, McFall said, she could have more kids. She could also pay enough to attract some instructors with bachelor’s degrees or equivalent training, while increasing wages for her current employees, whose starting salaries are around $9 an hour.
“I know I have three or four who are on poverty level incomes,” McFall said. “They are here because they want to be here and they love the kids. They are worth more than they can pay.”
There’s actually a chance that McFall’s center could get that kind of money soon. NS”build back better“Chairman Joe Biden and the Democrats are trying to dramatically increase federal support for child care, as part of the Act. massive effort The plan came to be known as the plan to raise incomes and improve public services for poor and middle-class Americans – or to shore up the nation’s “human infrastructure.”
The components of the law are highly popular, according to vote, and has the ability to Change Daily life like the New Deal and The Great Society. But since the law has no Republican support and Democrats have a small majority in Congress, it would require the votes of nearly every House Democrat and every single member of the Senate’s Democratic caucus. now, a A handful of people are opposing the agenda And among the most prominent is West Virginia’s own Democratic senator, Joe Manchin.
At least publicly, Munchkin has not criticized the child care proposal or any other specific program. Instead, he is Concentrate At cost: $3.5 trillion in new federal outlay over the next decade. They argue that that level of spending can damage the economy, deplete federal resources and, generally, create a government system that is too large.
That position may represent Manchin’s actual views, his sense of what most Republican voters in West Virginia think, or some combination of those and other factors. But whatever their motives, and however justified their fears about government spending, there is another side to the story – the needs that spending is designed to be.
And some states need to look like West Virginia.
Why West Virginia Needs So Much Help
West Virginia has long been synonymous with rural poverty and today, its Average income The country has the second lowest rank, behind only Mississippi.
for much of the 20th century, which generated public support for government action and led to the election of Democratic senators such as Robert Byrd, who used his long tenure on the Appropriations Committee to secure the state. Public works worth more than $10 billion, and Jay Rockefeller, who supported Medicaid and helped develop the federal child health insurance program. today, roughly one in four West Virginians get medical coverage through those programs.
But like the rest of Appalachia and the South, West Virginia has increasingly elected Republicans. West Virginia Republicans Haven’t Crusade for Small Government, Says Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Vis.) once did, but they have also not supported large expansions of government programs, even though state needs have clearly increased.
The national shift to more women in the workforce has increased the demand for child care, while an aging population living with more disabilities has increased the demand for long-term care, including home and community support, to help the elderly and people with disabilities. allowed to live in private homes. Stay away from other institutions. The need for the latter is particularly acute in West Virginia, where the proportion of residents over the age of 65 third highest in the country.
All of this helps to explain why, in one Recent report card on “Care Policies” By The Century FoundationWest Virginia was one of five states to receive the F. The survey considered the quality, affordability and availability of various programs, including child care and home care, and paid leave for workers.
And although the low-scoring states also had some strong programs – West Virginia, for example, has won praise for Universal Pre-Kindergarten The overall level of support in these, according to the Initiative Report, is “as families scramble for work, care and family management, creating impossible conflicts that lead to economic insecurity, poor health, additional stress and growing inequality.”
What could the Democrats bill mean for West Virginia?
These kinds of difficulties and pressure are exactly what Biden and Democrats hope to ease with the new legislation, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said could come up for a vote as soon as this week. One of the bill’s components, for example, would make a temporary program permanent – first enacted in the COVID-19 relief package – sending monthly checks to families with children. In West Virginia, that proposal could lift 23,000 children out of poverty Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Will lead to another initiative in the law”home- and community-based services” For Americans with Disabilities and Elderly. If fully funded, the money could wipe out waiting lists that exist in many states and raise the wages of care providers, which advocates say would improve the quality of care and make it easier to attract more workers. Will happen. it can make a big difference West Virginia, where home care workers today earn less than $10 an hour and where, according to research and advocacy organization estimates PHI, the state will need Fill About 30,000 home care jobs over the next decade.
And then there’s the child care initiative. The proposal began as an independent law within the Build Back Better Plan, child care act for working families, was first introduced in 2017 by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.). It would give states money to subsidize child care more than they do now, but with the goal of making sure its cost does not exceed 7% of any family’s income. At the same time, money can only go to programs that meet a set of quality standards and pay workers better.
It’s so hard to see a parent say ‘I can’t buy groceries this week because my car broke down and I really can’t even pay you.’ how can [I] So say, you have to pay for your child’s care?
Michelle McFall, child care provider in Union, West Virginia
The inevitably high cost of trying to do those two things together – limiting expenses for families, as well as making many existing providers spend more on facilities and workers – suggests that the temps drawn up over the summer. The plan is why Democrats envision $450 billion in new outlays over 10 years. .
But the money will make a tangible difference to the families. For a typical middle-class family in West Virginia, weekly child care costs would drop by nearly half, from $198 to $96 and from 10.4% to 5.0% of household income, according to a new estimate. center for american progress.
Such help can make a big difference especially in rural areas, Kelly Allen, executive director for West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said . “There are entire counties that don’t have child care centers at all,” Allen said. “And then it doesn’t even address the issue of affordability for families that have a child care center but are on a waiting list or can’t pay for it.”
McFall can personally confirm this. Despite subsidies, many parents struggle to cover tuition. She said she does her best to help those families, by tapping into a small scholarship fund supported by local charities and making them late payments when she can….