The shutdown and child care

After MPR reporter Sasha Aslanian’s story aired today about the problems being faced by people who depend on a child care subsidy, we received several stories from people who have described the impact of the state shutdown.

The most compelling comes from Leslie Eck of Saint Paul:

I am a single mother of a soon-to-be-three-year-old girl. I had my daughter during my junior year of college and her father abandoned us when she was two weeks old. I graduated from the University of Minnesota just over a year ago with a B.S. in microbiology; however, I couldn’t have done it without a little help from Minnesota.

I used public assistance including WIC, food stamps, Medicaid, and childcare assistance to help subsidize my family’s cost of living while finishing my degree. I have been employed as a contract laboratory worker at 3M now for a year, and I am almost completely independent from any form of state assistance, except for child care.

As a contract worker, I only make 50-60 percent of what 3M pays the contract house toward my hourly wage. In other words, I don’t make a lot. I work 50+ hours a week without receiving overtime pay in hopes that I will earn my keep and a permanent position within the company.

Because of the extensive hours I need to work to pay my bills, I use a daycare center with longer hours rather than home daycare (which would be much cheaper, but couldn’t meet my busy work schedule needs).

Now, with the shutdown darkening our doorstep and no more child care assistance coming in, I will have to pull my daughter from her center (which I love and she has been going to for over two years. Other mothers will understand how painful this is!), and count on my mother, who is on unemployment and laid off from her job, to help me with the cost of care.

I find it infuriating that so many people accuse working families using childcare assistance as being “free-loaders” and using other citizens’ hard-earned money via income taxes to subsidize our lives. Without child care assistance. I couldn’t even work to pay my fair share of taxes, let alone contribute to the economy by paying my bills.

Think of it this way: the taxes I end up paying from my paycheck go right back into my own child care costs.

I am working diligently towards my goal of a non-contract, full-time position so I no longer need any form of assistance to pay for my living expenses. But in the meantime, I could use a little help from my neighbors in the great state of Minnesota. I try hard to give back to my community in so many ways. I am a volunteer at clinics and nursing homes through my church. I plan events in my neighborhood, and I am doing my best everyday to make ends meet for my family.

So I am asking people in Minnesota who still care about these issues to stand up for your neighbors, family, and friends who need help. My family is not the only one suffering through this shutdown.

We heard from another listener from East Bethel on the shutdown coverage:

I hear over and over about people that are angry about the state shutdown. Why do I never hear from those that are happy the state isn’t able to spend its taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars? I hear from only those grabbing money from their neighbors’ pockets, why aren’t we hearing from those who resent being statutorily thieved from?

And that’s where we are in the shutdown debate.