Phyllis Neilsen, Wakefield: We Need a Voice to Fix Rhode Island’s Child Care Program

The child care system in Rhode Island is broken.

One of my children just started Kindergarten; his younger brother is still in my care. The older boy goes to a center before and after school most of the time, but when there’s no school I care for him.

During Hurricane Sandy, his center and his school were closed for a few days. The mom still had to go to work, so I cared for both children. But because the older boy is enrolled before and after school at a center, DHS didn’t pay me while I cared for him. The mother is a very hard worker and never misses a day of work; she’s the very kind of person this system was designed to help. But she had to pay out of pocket for these days.

DHS doesn’t have a system for this kind of situation. During school vacations or if school is cancelled for some reason, either the mom needs to pay out of pocket or I need to absorb the costs and fight for weeks with DHS to get reimbursed. It’s not fair to hard working parents who rely on child care and it’s not fair to providers. Child care providers need a voice so we can improve the system for ourselves, the parents, and the children we care for.

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