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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Costs of child care focus of confab

By DEREK EDRY
Staff Writer

NASHUA - Members of the local child care community, state government and legislative candidates gathered Thursday morning for the Nashua Early Childcare Round Table at the Adult Learning Center.

Child care training specialist for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Jessica Sugrue was the event moderator. Before passing the baton to the other panelists, Sugrue outlayed some of her major concerns. ...

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NASHUA - Members of the local child care community, state government and legislative candidates gathered Thursday morning for the Nashua Early Childcare Round Table at the Adult Learning Center.

Child care training specialist for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Jessica Sugrue was the event moderator. Before passing the baton to the other panelists, Sugrue outlayed some of her major concerns.

"Child care costs are surpassing that of things like rent," Sugrue said.

According to the 2016 New Hampshire Early Care & Education Market Rate Survey, Sugrue is correct. 2015 full-time weekly infant child care - birth to 12 months - cost $220 per week on average.

Casey Caster, grant manager at Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New Hampshire, said when she had her child, even finding infant care in the state was tough.

"We were on a waiting list at several different places, and when we did finally find a place, it was four days a week at $800 a month," Caster said.

Kathy Nelson, head of school at World Academy in Nashua, addressed a related concern: child care worker wages.

"There are saints among us, but what I'm telling you is that you can't live on a saint's wage," Nelson said.

There was little disagreement between the panelists about whether affordable child care was an issue, though some expressed uncertainty about how to solve it.

"We live in the Live Free or Die state," said Mariellen MacKay, a candidate for state representative in Nashua's Ward 3. "Coming up with money isn't always what the Legislature wants to do."

The event was coordinated by the NH Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy from the Civix Strategy Group. Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess was also in attendance.

Derek Edry can be reached at 594-6589, dedry@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_Derek.