Build Back Better: How it could help Utah families afford childcare

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WEBER COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – For many parents across Utah, paying for childcare is not an option due to cost. Part of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan focuses on assisting middle-class Americans with those expenses. For a mother of four in Weber County, this extra help could let her go back to school to become a nurse.

A day at the park is a common outing for Mikiya Johnson and her kids. “We go to the park because it’s free,” she tells ABC4.

Johnson’s oldest child is 5-years old, who is followed by two-and-a-half-year-old twins, and then a nine-month-old baby.

Along with being a full-time mother and full-time employee, Johnson is working on becoming a nurse. She says, “I’ve been in school a year and a half. I’ve taken this semester off because childcare was really hard.”

Johnson says her family doesn’t qualify for childcare assistance from the state and would have to spend roughly $2,000 a month to pay for childcare for her youngest three kids. This, she says, is “$600 dollars over what we pay for our house a month.”

With daycare costing more than the family’s house payment, Johnson says that means paying for childcare is not an option for the time being. When asked if sending kids would mean the family would barely make ends meet each month, Johnson says, “Oh, we wouldn’t even make it paycheck to paycheck.”

It’s possible that President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan could help Utah families like the Johnsons. Middle-class families that qualify would get help paying for childcare. “No middle-class family will pay more than seven percent of their income on childcare,” the president said during a press conference. Along with helping middle-class familes pay for childcare, President Biden says the Build Back Better plan would also provide free universal preschool, make child tax credits permanent, and make college education more affordable.

“If they’re maxing out that seven percent, it’s definitely doable,” states Johnson. “You could set that aside. You could figure things out, but to have to put all that money towards daycare, it’s just so hard when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.”

Currently, Johnson says she works nights while her husband works days. They do this so one parent is at home with the kids at all times. She tells ABC4 they’re setting aside the extra money they are making right now to pay for childcare when she returns to school. However, she says it’s hard not having both parents at home as her children are quickly growing. While holding her baby, Johnson emphasizes, “Because my kids are only going to want cuddles for so long, (learn to) walk once, learn how to crawl once.”

Johnson tells ABC4 she understands why childcare costs what it does. She says she respects those who work in the profession and that every penny they spent when they did have kids in daycare was worth it for the quality of care that was provided.

For additional resources about childcare programs in Utah, click here.

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