On October 11th, parents, childcare workers, teachers, community members, and children joined the Utah Care for Kids Network for a stroller rally, calling on the Utah State Legislature to invest in affordable and accessible child care. The state is currently facing the impacts of federal emergency care funds running out, and as a result, programs have had to close, tuition for child care continues to rise, and many child care workers are facing layoffs from their jobs. Childcare is not merely a service; it is a cornerstone of a thriving community and a catalyst for economic growth. By providing adequate funding for child care, we create a nurturing environment for our youngest members, allowing parents to work, contribute to the economy, and pursue their careers with peace of mind.
Speakers at the October 11th rally emphasized the paramount importance of funding child care and investing in the well-being of our future generation. Among the speakers were childcare workers, writers, advocates, and YWCA Utah’s Assistant Director of Children’s Services, Marcella Viladiu-Gattis. Marcella first joined YWCA Utah in 2012 as a Pre-K Teacher, where she first began to develop her passion for early childhood education. As she saw YWCA Utah’s Lolie Eccles Early Education Center classrooms, and staff, filled with a deep understanding of the role early education plays, she began to realize how pivotal it was in the success of a child’s life. In 2018, Viladiu-Gattis had to leave her role at YWCA Utah due to a lack of child care, “I had my first child and unfortunately had to leave my job a few months later. I was not making enough to support my newly growing family and I did not make enough to enroll my baby in the infant room.” she said.
In 2022, YWCA Utah implemented a new benefit making childcare at our Lolie Eccles Early Education Center more accessible for our staff members. This new policy allowed for Viladiu-Gattis to return to YWCA Utah, and take on a new leadership position as Assistant Director of Children’s Services, “Pursuing this career change meant a role in leadership and an opportunity to learn new skills managing staff and different programs. Having access to on-site childcare means that I know my children are safe and well cared which then allows me to stay in the workforce to advance my career, network with colleagues, build relationships, and increase productivity as I work on tasks and overall job satisfaction.” she commented.
Other staff members from YWCA Utah’s Lolie Eccles Early Education Center took a couple of hours from the work day to show up right alongside everyone at the capitol, and in support of the day’s call to action. The rally continued with attendees marching around the capitol, and attending the day’s committee hearings. By prioritizing funding for child care, we are not just supporting families; we are shaping the future of our nation. It is an investment in the potential of every child, an affirmation of our commitment to education, and a step toward building a society where every individual has the opportunity to thrive. We must consider the immense impact that proper funding for child care can have on our community. Together, let us champion this cause and work towards a future where every child has access to quality care and education, regardless of their background.