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New Virginia program will help families pay for child care

Both child care providers and Virginia parents are struggling to make ends meet with the rising costs of child care.

NORFOLK, Va. — The price for child care varies from location to location, but there is a common theme for many parents: It is unbearably expensive.

According to Voices for Virginia's Children, Virginia is the 10th highest in the nation when it comes to child care costs. However, a new state subsidy program is scheduled to start on Oct. 1 that will provide relief to child care centers.

The state is beginning a two-year program that will reimburse providers for the true cost of child care, rather than the market price.

"Child care providers are vastly underpaid fields, undervalued fields," Emily Griffey, Voices for Virginia's Children's chief policy officer, said. "We hope these rate increases will be the turnaround and ensure that there are more professionals who stay in the field and can keep those child care facilities open."

Griffey said the pricing problem of child care starts with staffing shortages.

Many providers and workers left the field once the COVID-19 pandemic began. This shortage, combined with high prices for daycare supplies, means Virginia families are paying top dollar for their child care services.

"If you don't have the people providing care then you don't have enough classrooms open, you don't have enough space for families, it just becomes an unending circle," Griffey said.

A combination of federal and state funds will pay the child care facilities the "true cost" of child care. Griffey said families typically pay market price, which often doesn't come close to the true cost providers pay.

"Especially for providers who serve infants and toddlers, since that is the most costly service and ones that families can afford the least to pay - they are going to see the biggest increases," Griffey said.

This can make a huge difference for Virginia families, as there is an expected trickle-down effect. Danielle McWhite, a Virginia Beach mom, said she has three children she pays for child care for.

"It costs me more than my mortgage," McWhite said. "It's over a thousand dollars over two weeks and I'm considered on the cheaper side!" 

The subsidy program will start on Oct. 1. Interested business owners are encouraged to apply through their local social services.

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