Government subsidized day care is a life-line for many working parents, but eligibility changes and fee increases have made it hard or impossible for families to qualify, or to pay for it themselves. One woman's day care bill doubled, so she had to cut back her daughter's day care time.
"They have to be in day care. I have to work. I choose to work. I don't choose to be on welfare," said Kristen Roskelly, one parent whose costs doubled. "I don't want my children to grow up that way."
"They increased everybody's fees significantly," said Jessica Paul, a family coordinator. "People said, ‘I'm going to have to quit working. What do you want me to do? Do you want me to quit my job?'"
They all agreed that day care is not just babysitting. It's a multi-faceted program with education, nutrition and nurturing. West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler said the state already has trouble with its youth.
"Childhood obesity and childhood diabetes. But if we attack them early and if we correct those issues early with those programs, we can prevent a lot of other problems we see down the road," said Kessler.
He says West Virginia youth also have low educational attainment, a high dropout rate, and problems with drugs, alcohol and crime. He says tightening day care eligibility and raising fees will create a disincentive for parents to work hard and prosper.
Jessica Paul says they've already seen it.
"I have more than one person tell me that their husband, or them themselves, had to decline a raise because it would put them right at the exit level but the raise wouldn't cover the monthly cost of day care," she said.
They said without day care, children are left with unsuitable or incapable family members or are even left alone or parents quit their jobs, go on welfare and nobody wins.