Access to childcare is a growing problem in Connecticut and across the country. Childcare providers across the state are coming together on Wednesday to highlight the need for more funding and support.
Earlier this year, Gov. Ned Lamont announced increasing funding for Connecticut's largest childcare program, Care 4 Kids.
More than $14 million would be provided to families in 2024 and more than $53 million in 2025.
Some advocates say it doesn't address the lack of staff, workers' low wages or the high cost of childcare.
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Wednesday's rallies are part of an initiative called "Morning Without Childcare" and it's exactly how it sounds. Many childcare advocates are outside their classrooms, rallying for more funding and support for their children.
Childcare leaders are coming together to call on more support and funding as well as ways to repair what some call a "broken system."
"This has been a cause that we've been fighting for a while now, and we feel it's kind of getting ignored," said Director of Alphabet Academy and The Nest Amy McKiernan.
Advocates said a big concern is workers' low wages.
"We're here today to express how important our jobs are and how much we would love to make an actual livable wage off of it," said educator Courtney Vanacoure.
Data shows in 2021, the average hourly wage nationwide was under $14. In addition to fair wages, others said it is about demanding more respect.
"This isn't just a daycare. We are teachers. We plan curriculum," said educator Chelsey Quinn.
Another concern is the staggering cost of childcare. The average price in Connecticut is $15,000 for some families.
One mother of three said she pays nearly $20,000 a year for childcare.
"Care 4 Kids helps out a lot, but it's still hard, very hard," said Paris Pierce.
The big question is why do parents pay so much and employees make so little.
McKiernan said the answer is due to multiple reasons.
"Food, insurance, maintenance on the building, paper goods - toilet paper and then on top of that, benefits for our employees, pay for our employees, there's just not enough," she said.
Advocates said quality care shouldn't be so challenging to access and should also not prevent parents from going to work.
More rallies are expected to take place across the state on Wednesday in cities including New haven, New London, Stamford and Waterbury.