By LaPrayshia Peoples Hayes, MPA, Program Specialist, Office of Child Care
A week before my summer semester of college, a nurse revealed news that would forever change my life: I was pregnant. Even typing this blog, years later, I can still feel the anxiety running through my body the same way I felt it walking out of the university center. I was vividly picturing in my head the disappointment on the faces of my parents. They expected more from the daughter they sent off to attain an education. I remembered the many times I didn’t understand how they reacted when someone mentioned a girl my age having a baby.
I was also rehashing all of the statistics I’d read over the years. Stats highlighting the struggle many single mothers have faced trying to maintain their dignity and sanity while navigating a system they know nothing of. Taking care of a child as a 19-year-old single parent with no income definitely was not what I planned for myself. However, one thing was for certain – quitting school was never an option.
It didn’t come as a surprise to friends and family when they saw me moving forward. This was going to be one of those life changing events that would forever define my life. This was a moment in which I began my first steps into adulthood. It was important that I continued focusing on school and preparing for the arrival of my child.
In 2001, my son was born. We were determined to be eligible for child care assistance. This assistance had been recommended as an available resource designed for helping to pay for the cost of daycare. Upon approval, I chose to use the child care voucher at a provider whose center was located directly across from my campus. The largest barrier to finishing my education was removed. In 2003, graduating from college with a B.A. in Political Science became a great achievement of mine.
After completing graduate school, it was important for me to work for an organization charged with improving the quality of life for disadvantaged children, families and their communities.
In 2009, I was offered a position with the Administration for Children and Families in the Office of Child Care. I readily accepted. The Office of Child Care oversees the implementation of federal child care policies and provides guidance and technical assistance to states, tribes and territories as they administer the Child Care and Development Fund program.
Subsidized child care services funded by CCDF in my home state made access to affordable, high-quality early care available to me many years ago! Who knows? Without the child care subsidy, my journey may have led me to some other career choice. But at this moment in my life, I feel honored every day to have the opportunity to work with states and tribes on the effective management of CCDF.
Please allow my journey to inspire and motivate you as we continue to do powerful work here at ACF.