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  • The West Virginia Daily News

    A State Without Child Care Town Hall Tour Coming to Lewisburg

    By WV Daily News,

    30 days ago

    LEWISBURG, W.Va. (WVDN) – West Virginia childcare providers are once again reaching out to the community for support after a disappointing legislative session left them continuing to face an uncertain future. “Heading into the legislative session, we heard from several lawmakers that child care would be a legislative priority,” states West Virginia Association for Young Children (WVAYC) Executive Director Kristy Ritz. “We heard nothing but supportive positive remarks regarding child care and how it was a top priority for so many, so imagine the disappointment when nothing was done,” Ritz added.

    Last year, the child care coalition, which is housed in WVAYC, held a series of town halls across the state leading up to the National Day Without Child Care in May to describe the need for permanent enrollment-based reimbursements. The town halls were largely successful with lawmakers and community stakeholders attending, including a visit by Governor Jim Justice during the town hall in Lewisburg. Shortly after the town halls concluded, WV DHHR announced that the COVID-related changes to reimbursement rates would be extended through September of 2024, and, although childcare providers were relieved by the funding extension, they continued to advocate for a permanent fix to the problem throughout the legislative session. “We are the workforce behind the workforce,” said Michelle McFall of Monroe Day Care Center, disheartened by the lack of support from the state legislature.

    According to Child Care Aware of America and TEAM For West Virginia Children, 42.6% of West Virginia children under the age of six need but cannot access child care. West Virginia rates 50th in the nation for childcare accessibility, and 64% of West Virginia families live in a childcare desert. And West Virginia faces the closure of many childcare programs if our legislature does not do something soon. childcaremap

    With frustration mounting among childcare providers and families, the interest in “A State Without Child Care” is quickly growing. Amy Jo Hutchison, WV Campaign Director for MomsRising and founder of the Rattle The Windows grassroots movement, says that “West Virginia families cannot afford to pay more for child care, and child care businesses cannot afford to stay open. I really hope that the Governor and legislators can solve this problem during an upcoming special session, because, if not, prices for child care will rise substantially and families who receive subsidies will be losing child care assistance and pushed out of the workforce.”

    “A State Without Child Care” Town Halls will be held across the state during the month of April and into May, leading up to a national day of action on May 13 and the West Virginia Legislative May interim. A list of dates and locations can be found on the WV Association for Young Children Facebook page.

    “We heard a lot of talk this session from our legislature about getting families to work by making it harder for them to simply get by,” said Hutchison. “They tried to cut SNAP and unemployment benefits for West Virginians, and they even tried rolling back child labor laws. Meanwhile, a much more beneficial solution for our economy would be to address the real barrier that keeps people from working – lack of affordable and accessible child care. Working parents want to work – but they can’t work if they don’t have access to quality child care.”

    “A State Without Child Care Town Halls” Tour will be in Lewisburg on April 23 at Hollowell Park, 186 Matthews Street. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the event beginning at 6:00 p.m. There will be opportunities for people to get involved to show support, share their childcare stories, and talk to decision-makers in attendance about West Virginia childcare. Contact Monroe Daycare Center at 304-772-5240 for more information.

    The post A State Without Child Care Town Hall Tour Coming to Lewisburg appeared first on West Virginia Daily News .

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