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Buried by barriers: Hefty child care costs limit job-seeking single parents

(Facebook Photo/Save the Family)

PHOENIX — Finding a job is never easy, especially as a single mother of two.

Rachel, a Mesa mom, said that after she lost her job, her children were her top priority.

“I don’t want to leave my kids with just anybody but the cost of child care is just crazy,” she said.

While looking for a new job, Rachel said she had two choices.

She could find a job that would accommodate the schedule of her two school-age children or find a job with a big enough salary to pay for child care.

Neither was easy.

“It’s just a challenge,” she said. “I don’t mind working nights but I really couldn’t afford to put them in a place where they could be taken care of and even then, the pay was bare minimum, like minimum wage.”

Ultimately, Rachel realized after-school care for her kids was her most viable option.

It wasn’t affordable.

According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, the cost of weekly, full-time child care in Maricopa County costs anywhere from $100 to $225.

For Rachel, this would mean paying anywhere from $770 to $1,200 a month on it.

However, she began to breathe easier when she was connected with Mesa nonprofit Save the Family.

“I came here and they provided me with alternatives and solutions I didn’t even know existed,” she said.

In addition to Save the Family’s own programs, they connected her with a program through DES, which helped to subsidize her child care costs.

The city is also aware of the strain that the cost of child care is causing.

“We now have a continuum of education program in Mesa.” Mesa Mayor John Giles said. “We work with the providers of not just daycare but Pre-K and early learning initiatives through Child Crisis and through Mesa Public Schools. We’ve invested a lot more than we used.”

But Rachel said she’d also like to see private corporations put more consideration into the needs of working parents.

“It would be nice if there were more companies that offered child care at the workplace,” she said. “I think that’s just a big opportunity anywhere… I think it would help companies in the long run because more people would be willing to stay there.”

Now, thanks to Save the Family and DES, Rachel’s daughters are excited to go to their after-school care.

“They like it because it’s at their school and they have friends at their school that actually go there and it’s a chance for them to socialize with their friends,” Rachel said.

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