" We live in an old system of working men and stay-at-home women. That needs to change. " - Annie Vang
By Annie Vang
Through my six years in college and graduate school I had problems with childcare. When my children were toddlers it was hard to get childcare and work with only a high school diploma under my belt, even with many years of customer service experience. I am not a single mom and I could barely keep it together with my significant other. My work time was very limited and I would spend weekends working and weekdays with my children. The struggle became too much and I needed a change.
I returned to college. I was tired of working for little pay and too many hours. I knew getting an education would make my future better.
Because we did not have a steady address, which made receiving mail from the county hard, we could not be on a two-year wait list for childcare. Navigating the government system is not easy. I am a U.S. citizen and I can read and write in English, but it is my second language, which limits my vocabulary. The amount of paperwork is overwhelming. The main office is in the middle of nowhere and a car is needed to see a case manager.
We live in an old system of working men and stay-at-home women. That needs to change. Single-parent homes, multi-generational families with a parent dealing with mental health issues, grandparents stepping in, two-parent working homes - they are all affected by childcare.
In 2015, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services website, 50 percent of children who are a part of sliding-fee childcare are white, 28 percent are African American, 7 percent Latino, 2.5 percent Asian and 7.5 percent multiple race. This means that the families who are aware of the program are white families compared to people of color. The families that know the system know where to look for resources.
I am a person of color and looking for resources is overwhelming. The system is sometimes not as friendly or supportive if the vocabulary is not so easy to understand.
I am writing these words in hopes of bringing awareness to the community that childcare is still greatly needed. Childcare for working families is the step forward. It is needed to make families' lives more positive as well as provide for the children who will be the future doctors, lawyers, social workers, teachers, bus drivers, caregivers, etc. Let your legislators know the importance of having accessible childcare for all low-income and struggling families. At some time we have all been there - living paycheck to paycheck without savings. That is not a good place to be, but there are many families that are there.
Annie Vang lives in St. Paul and is a graduate student in social work at Augsburg College.