NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While many parents want to go back to work after having a child, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes, parents don’t have childcare so they don’t have a choice.
To work or not to work? It’s a decision lots of families are faced with after having a baby, especially in Middle Tennessee.
Tamara Young knows this all too well. “We found it to be a lot more challenging than we thought it would be.”
For the Young family, there was more than one obstacle. First, getting a spot in daycare was problematic.
“We shopped around while I was pregnant, and we visited some daycares. We thought it would be pretty simple,” she said.
She thought they were ahead of the curve by getting on an early waitlist.
“The school recommended that we go to their sister school, which was a bit of a commute for us: it was about a 30 minute one-way commute. So, a couple hours a day of driving to and from but we thought, this is temporary, because we’ll be prioritized on the waiting list down the road,” said Young.
Young considered quitting her job to stay home with the girls, a sacrifice more and more parents are making these days.
“When your child is really struggling, like our two-year-old was, it’s like the mom guilt that they talk about is like, times 1,000,” Young remembered. “And you’ll do anything just to make them happy, even if it means sacrificing, some of your own dreams, at least temporarily.”
Young turned to mom groups on Facebook and found a new school just about to open.
They got in and the girls are now happy and have a consistent schedule, and Young has been able to keep working. But, not every family in Middle Tennessee is as lucky.
Parents, especially women, are leaving the workforce in droves to become caretakers.
“It is really true. and it’s something that’s important for us to address,” said Gina Tek, who is the senior manager for Childcare Tennessee, a program within the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
A study shows 67% of children under the age of six in Davidson County have one or both parents in the workforce. When those parents don’t have reliable and affordable childcare, the economy suffers.
According to a study by Childcare Aware America, $12.7 billion dollars is lost every year in the U.S. due to employee childcare needs.
Tek said this is just the beginning: the loss that can’t be measured by a graphic or study, is the one our children experience.
“We need quality childcare, for economic reasons, for families to be able to work, to support the economy of our community, but it’s really for the children,” said Tek. “It’s really for that brain development in the secure, safe, learning environments.”
Young is still on that waitlist she placed her daughter on when she was pregnant, and her daughter is now 2-years-old.
Young said the one piece of advice she has for parents struggling to find childcare is to join local Facebook mom groups.