I-Team: Childcare Crunch - WNEM TV 5

I-Team: Childcare Crunch

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

"I want to see what's going on all the time. I want to be there, but at the same time I'm at home or working,” said Noha Rabh, parent.

Rabh is like most parents. The safety of her young children is her top priority, but it’s a balancing act.

She goes to school and works part-time while her husband works full-time at Covenant Healthcare. All this while taking care of two children under the age of 4.

"It's so close to the hospital so if anything happens, he's just right here,” Rabh said.

She is studying to become a physician assistant, and said without their current childcare provider, that just wouldn't be possible

"Because I want to trust the people that I'm leaving my kids with. I want everything to be perfect and trustful,” Rabh said.

But that's not the case for everybody.

A typical family in the state of Michigan typically can’t afford childcare.

“Childcare is an expensive cost,” said Nicole Sootsman, children’s center coordinator at Covenant Healthcare.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, childcare is only deemed affordable if it adds up to 10 percent or less of a family’s income.

Childcare in Michigan takes up 16.5 percent of a typical family's average income of $59,940, forcing many to make tough choices.

"I'd say anywhere between $40 and $50 a day depending on how many days a week your child is attending,” Sootsman said.

Sootsman runs the children's center at Covenant Healthcare. It's an on-campus child care center initially created for Covenant employees, but is now also open to the public.

She acknowledges daycare isn't cheap, but said providing the quality care parents want and need also isn't cheap.

"There is a lot that goes into providing a high quality early childhood center,” Sootsman said.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, Michigan is cheaper than states like Illinois – where the average annual cost of infant care is nearly $13,000 – and Wisconsin – where that cost is about $11,600.

Parents in Michigan pay nearly twice as much as parents in Alabama or Kentucky.

The average annual cost of childcare in Alabama is about $5,600.

In Kentucky, the annual cost is about $6,300.

The cost difference is mainly tied to the cost of living in each state.

Dealing with the expense of daycare is a struggle working parents have been dealing with for years, though the price seems to be taking a larger bite out of the family budget these days.

As for Rabh and her husband, she said they feel they made the right choice for their family and it's worth every penny.

“Because it makes it easier for us. I just like that my husband is here. He's right across the street so he can come and see and that makes it safe for me,” Rabh said.

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