CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte mom had to choose between her job and paying for child care for her youngest son.
What You Need To Know
Neyla Santamaria decided to quit her job because she couldn’t afford day care
In the Charlotte area, a UNC Charlotte professor said child care centers charge between $1,200 and $1,500 a month
President Joe Biden’s bill includes a proposal to lower child care costs for working families, but it still has to pass the U.S. Senate to become law
Neyla Santamaria was an administrative assistant until June of this year. She quit her job after realizing her family couldn’t afford child care for her 3-year-old, John Esteban.
Santamaria said the cheapest day care she found was around $1,300 per month.
“Believe it or not, that was almost my paycheck a month,” Santamaria said. “We just realized it was not affordable for us. Not only that, the waiting list. It was almost six months, and I needed it for today,” Santamaria said.
Before the pandemic, John Esteban had a babysitter.
“That was a big help, and other days my mom would be the one helping us,” Santamaria said.
When the pandemic hit, Santamaria worked from home and cared for the kids.
“It had a lot of demands: paying attention to my work, the kids,” Santamaria said.
When it was time for her to return to the office, his babysitter was no longer available. At that time, she started researching day care options.
After realizing it wasn’t affordable she and her husband decided it was best for her to stay home.
Since then, she started her own business selling beauty products. She named it Neyla’s Beauty Boutique.
“Knowing that I’m saving over $1,300 a month for just day care. I can still help a little bit in the house, not like I used to, but I’m just starting,” Santamaria said.
According to UNC Charlotte professor of communication studies Dr. Margaret M. Quinlan, child care centers in the Charlotte area charge between $1,200 to $1,500 a month.
According to Zillow, in Charlotte the average rent is $1,420 a month.
Part of Quinlan’s research involves issues related to child care and child care giving.
“The cost of child care cannot be made lower because it’s already, you know, a business that has pretty small margins and you know, already the staff are underpaid,” Quinlan said.
Quinlan, who lives in Iredell County, said she knows the high cost of child care from personal experience too. She said in her case, the most affordable option for her children was half-day preschool.
“One issue for the Charlotte area is that so many of us don’t have family to help,” Quinlan said. “We don’t have those, those villages. And so a lot of us have moved here for work … that’s putting stress on the child care centers.”
In her perspective, federal support is needed to make it affordable.
“We need a big overhaul of the system. It’s definitely in a crisis,” Quinlan said.
President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act bill includes a proposal to lower child care costs for working families. The $1.9 trillion spending plan cleared the U.S. House of Representative but still needs to be approved by the U.S. Senate. On Sunday, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said he didn’t plan to vote for it, which decreases its likelihood to become law.