Surging childcare costs put strain on families

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KENT, Ohio (WJW) – Parents nationwide are having to make the difficult decision on whether to quit their jobs or let their children stay home from daycare or after-school programs. The cost of childcare centers has jumped nearly fifty percent and many after-school programs have shut down since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Morgart family has seen a lot of change over the past two years. When the pandemic closed down their daycare, Kara Morgart left her job.

“That was interesting and life-changing,” said Kara Morgart. “I essentially became a stay-at-home mom and had to try to provide social and learning for her and be a mom.”

Now, almost two years later, Kara landed her dream job and the Morgarts decided to send their kids to daycare part-time.

“That was a tough decision,” said Kara’s husband, Alex Morgart. “I would be lying if I said we didn’t have discussions like ‘Should we do this?’ and ‘Should you take this job?’ Which is crazy because she worked so hard the past four to five years earning her degree to get to this point.”

The Morgarts, like many other families, are trying to figure out what’s best for their family in this pandemic.

According to a study by The Penny Hoarder, four out of ten parents have gone into debt over the rise in childcare costs. Twenty-nine percent have cut down their work hours to be with their kids and nearly one out of five parents quit their job.

More kids are spending more time at home. So how does this impact those old enough to be home alone?

Dr. Ievers-Landis is a Clinical Psychologist at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s. She says kids are avoiding after-school bullying, but she’s seeing a lot of at-home fighting.

“When you’re together through long periods of time and without an adult supervising you, that’s something I’m concerned about,” said Dr. Ievers-Landis. “Bullying and even thoughts of self-harm because of them getting so angry at a sibling.”

Ohio law does not indicate an age that children can be left home alone. Parents need to consider their child’s maturity level and their ability to make safe decisions.

So what about the toddlers kept home with family members?

“It can affect the development of their abilities to get along with kids their own age and just those basic skills like sharing and taking turns and being kind to each other,” said Dr. Levers-Landis.

Dr. Levers-Landis added that kids don’t necessarily need daycare to get that interaction, though. They can be out with other kids in the neighborhood or with cousins. She also wants all of us to remember that no matter what we choose for our children, that is the best decision.

“Most kids are doing very well, and most kids are thriving,” she said. “Some are even doing better so I want parents to feel hopeful that they know what’s best for their child and their family. I want to take away all that parent guilt that everyone is dragging around with them.”

For the Morgarts their current schedule is working out very well. They say they’ll just wait to see what the future holds.

“I think we wing it, but we keep doing what we’re doing by having them in school part-time and with family while we keep working,” said Kara Morgart. “It’s busy but it’s great.”

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