Shiroma Herath decided to go to this month’s Strolling Thunder event to share her experiences grappling with the high cost of child care.
As we blogged earlier this month, Strolling Thunder drew families from across the country who came to talk to Congress about the concerns of babies and families.
Herath attended, along with her husband and her baby, and spoke to Representative Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts); Nikki Hurt and Andrew Zack from Senator Ed Markey’s office; and Julia Frederick a staff person from Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office.
“I came from Sri Lanka to the United States three years ago as a green card holder with my husband,” Herath says of her family’s story. Three months after they arrived, the couple had their baby at UMass Memorial Medical Center.
Herath had worked for 10 years as an information technology officer for the Sri Lankan government. She hoped to continue her career in the United States and pursue her studies.
“For that I needed a quality and affordable childcare for my baby. But it was very difficult to find. Childcare rates here are really high.”
She applied for child care assistance, which came, she says, eight months later.
“I was advised to find a job working a minimum of 30 hours per week to keep the child care assistance.” She worked as a cashier in a local store, but she couldn’t get 30 hours at this job, so she lost the child care support.
“Now I am paying more than I earn to the daycare. It is not affordable for us in any way.”
So she came to Strolling Thunder. “I needed to be a voice for all the parents in Massachusetts who are struggling.” Herath is also a member of the local parents’ action group Worcester Community Connections Coalition.
What does she hope members of Congress have learned from Strolling Thunder?
“The difficulties parents with babies face.”
Parents, she says, need quality and affordable childcare, paid family leave, and help to ensure the healthy and emotional development of their babies.