ROCHESTER, Mich. (WXYZ) — Principal Sara Crowley can focus on work, knowing her son is at the Rochester Community Schools Caring Steps Children’s Center.
“I have peace of mind, knowing he is in a safe place every day,” said Crowley.
She feels fortunate.
She was there as U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh toured the center on Thursday. He listened to workers, parents, and staff.
Superintendent Robert Shaner talked about the web of issues caused by the labor shortage.
“Until we can get enough caregivers in here to meet our licensing requirements we can’t meet the needs of the community,” said Shaner.
Caring Steps has 81 students enrolled and 126 on a waitlist. It has the capacity to serve them, but cannot.
The reason? In March 2020 it had 24 caregivers. Now it has only 11 and is struggling to find more.
“Daycare was free and I really miss that,” said Gisele Angrge, a mom who immigrated from Brazil.
Gisele says she worries that child care issues now will impact the work futures of women.
“How can I grow if I can’t make more hours because I don’t have family here,” she said.
“This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue. This is about investing in our people,” said Walsh.
Walsh is promoting President Joe Biden’s so-called American Families Plan that is being considered by Congress. It would fund universal preschool and provide direct support to low and middle-income families to ensure they pay no more than seven percent of their income to child care.
WXYZ spoke to critics of the plan who did not want to go on camera. They said they believe families should be self-reliant and the government should not increase spending on subsidizing childcare. Walsh says that isn’t working.
“We’ve created a class of people who have and people who are poor. And what we need today is a pathway into the middle class,” said Walsh.