More Parents Face a Child Care Crisis

How to find affordable child care during the recession.

ByABC News via logo
January 22, 2009, 7:16 PM

Jan. 23, 2009 — -- The banking industry, the auto industry, the housing industry -- it's no secret that these businesses have been hit hard by the current economic crisis.

Now the child care industry is suffering as well.

Parents facing layoffs and reduced hours often can't afford child care costs, and child care centers are closing because of the lack of business. That can leave families and their children facing a heartbreaking dilemma -- how to cobble together adequate child care when personal finances are increasingly tight.

Many families are turning to relatives to pick up the slack. Forty percent of grandparents provide some child care for their grandchildren. But that's not always the perfect solution, as one family knows all too well.

Joy Walker and Dexter Tiggs of Atlanta have worked hard their entire lives, so they assumed that when their son, "Little Dexter," was born last April, they would be able to afford quality child care. But the downturn in the economy has made that a struggle. Joy's sales are down, and Dexter works two jobs just to make ends meet.

Now they're caught in a bind: They don't make enough to afford full-time child care, but they make too much to qualify for state aid.

"I was told by a state agency, 'Well, if you want help, I know that you work every day, you would have to have nine dependents, based on your salary,'" Walker said. "I am not about to have nine kids."

And so, like thousands of parents across the country, they have turned to family for help -- specifically, to Tiggs' great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth, affectionately known as Peabo.

At 73, Peabo already cares full-time for her 5-year-old great-granddaughter Maya. She initially was hesitant to take on an 8-month-old child as well.

"I don't know -- because I am kind of tired of raising children," she confessed.

But she knew that Tiggs and Walker needed her help, so she now cares for "Little D" two days a week, sometimes for as long as 10 to 12 hours a day. The other days, he is in day care.