In Nevada, babies and their families face some tough challenges from health care access to the mental health of mothers, according to a report by a national group that tracks child development.
A lot of that is related to the fact that roughly 40 percent of babies are born into poverty-level families.
Zero to Three, which puts out the report recording those numbers, matches parents with members of Congress to talk about their concerns.
Las Vegas mother Kelly Bumgarner talked to Rep. Susie Lee, D-NV., about some of her concerns about raising children in Nevada.
“I felt that the offices of the senators and the congresswoman really understand and agree with the struggles that Nevada parents are facing during the pandemic and now that we’re coming out of it in the recovery,” Bumgarner said.
Bumgarner is a mother of two girls, one is 6 and the other is 10 months old.
During the pandemic, the preschool that her oldest daughter was going to, where she and her husband had hoped to send their infant, closed.
Bumgarner said it was a challenge to decide if it even made sense to return to work after having her daughters because of the high cost of childcare.
“If I was going to work 40 hours a week in person, it may not have made any economic sense for me to work at all, depending on what kind of facility we were looking for and hoping to put the kids in,” she said.
She works at home as a policy analyst for a nonprofit advocacy firm, but that is also a balance between taking care of children who require a lot of care and attending to her job.
Congresswoman Susie Lee said the high cost of childcare has always been an issue, but it has become even more problematic since the pandemic because so many childcare facilities have closed.
Lee says a quarter of the childcare facilities around the country have closed during the pandemic. The extra demand for facilities has driven up the cost.
“When they’re making a decision, ‘Do I go back to work?’ You have got to add in the cost of childcare to that total decision,” she said, “It’s not just the paycheck you’re bringing home, it’s the money that’s going out the door also.”
Lee and Senator Jacky Rosen joined other lawmakers to introduce the Small Business Child Care Investment Act. The bill would allow nonprofit childcare facilities to apply for Small Business Administration loans so they can expand services.
Right now, the loans are only available to for-profit facilities.
“Basically, what this bill will do is number one: it’s going to prevent the closures of nonprofit childcare providers but also, could potentially allow them to expand their operations,” Lee explained.
Lee also supports the American Families Plan, a piece of legislation proposed by the Biden administration, that would give a tax credit for as much as half of the cost of qualified childcare.
“It is just an additional expense when families are just barely making enough to pay for their electricity, their rent or their mortgage, their car payment, their food and clothing, their gas – all those expenses pile up,” she said.
The bill would also invest $225 billion into childcare facilities allowing them to hire more employees for smaller class sizes, train employees for better instruction and update facilities to accommodate disabled children. Lee believes the American Families Plan is similar to investing infrastructure.
“We have seen time and time again that an investment in early childhood education and early childcare the return on investment is significant,” she said.
Bumgarner likes the ideas but is worried about how to maintain those subsidies.
“We have an opportunity in the recovery to make things better going forward, but we have to think smart in Nevada about how those kinds of things will be maintained,” she said.
Congresswoman Susie Lee, (D-NV), District 3; Kelly Bumgarner, mother
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