Gloria Knight used to run a family child care center out of her Prince George’s county home, providing care for six children. Then, a horrible bike accident that left Gloria in a coma forced her to shut down her child care center for more than five months, leaving four families scrambling to find other options while Gloria’s injuries healed.
To make matter worse, like most child care providers in Maryland, Gloria had no health coverage so she was required to liquidate all her assets to pay for her hospital bills.
With her business shut down and her finances depleted, Gloria had to move in with her mother to survive. Remarkably, Gloria was able to pay down her debt and reopen her doors. She cares for three children today.
Too many Maryland family child care providers are shutting their doors for good. One in six providers left the profession in 2004, in part because they have no voice in decisions that affect their businesses and kids. At the same time, 75 percent of children in Maryland under the age of twelve have mothers in the workforce and need child care.
We are headed toward a child care crisis for Maryland families if we don’t act soon. High turnover, provider shortages, and instability in the family child care profession hurts children, families, our communities, and providers.
Gloria and 12,000 other family child care providers in Maryland are joining together for a stronger voice in their jobs and the kids they care for.
Our elected officials have an opportunity to pass bipartisan legislation that would give these providers the voice they need so they can work together to improve quality standards for our kids and win higher wages and health benefits to keep good, experienced providers in the profession.
Maryland families rank child care costs as either their #1 or #2 top monthly expenses, after their mortgage or rent. With more and more parents working longer, irregular hours, this legislation also helps working families by expanding the state’s child care tax credit for families making up to $75,000.
With the Quality Child Care Access and Affordability Act, we can all work together to put kids first. Please go to http://seiuaction.org/campaign/kidsfirstaction and tell your lawmaker to support affordable, quality child care for Maryland families today.