Last year, I found myself going through a difficult and unexpected separation and subsequent divorce that left me in a very tight financial situation. The hardest part was not knowing how I was going to make sure my son had safe, quality care so I could continue to work at my federal agency. Childcare, specifically in the DMV area is quite expensive. Many parents spend close to the same if not more on childcare then they do on their rent or mortgage.
As a federal employee, I earn a good salary but with unexpected legal expenses and being left with a ton of debt, without having any financial support I was not able to afford childcare. Through a county parent education program, I was referred to Child Care Counts as a possible resource to help during this tough transition. They were immediately responsive and even though I did not qualify for the full program, they agreed to give me a five-month scholarship while I got back on my feet and finalized my divorce and child support arrangements. I cannot tell you what a relief it was for me to have a place for my son that was nurturing, safe and that he and I both loved. I was able to choose my own state licensed provider based on our needs and comfort level.
Parents in their program are provided with financial counseling from an independent certified financial counselor each year. Even though I was in the program on a short-term basis, I was able to take advantage of this benefit and the advice I got was very helpful. I was able to make a plan to help change my financial situation. In all of my exchanges with Child Care Counts and the financial counselor, I was treated with respect and dignity, which was important to me at such a vulnerable time. They were truly a “hand up” – not a hand out.
When I applied, I did not know that they participated in the (“Combined Federal Campaign”) and that some of the funding that enabled them to help me came from donations made by fellow federal employees through the campaign. It truly takes a village and I am grateful for the generosity of your donations and the assistance those donations provided to me in a time of great need and stress. Please consider supporting Child Care Counts as you make your pledges this year. Every amount, no matter how small, goes toward helping struggling parents in the Washington DC metro area.
Your Fellow Federal Employee,