Her Recession: Single mother in endless cycle struggling to find work due to lack of child care

SPOKANE, Wash. — There are quite a few job openings across the Inland Northwest and no one applying for them. There are hurdles many are facing, including women, who’ve been pushed out of the workforce and can’t find their way back in.

It’s been 14 months since Michelle Elliott has worked. She’s been home with the kids all day every day since then. As a single mother, everything fell on her.

“Single parents as a whole, the responsibility is huge for us to not only provide for our family, but to also care for them at the same time,” she said.

To be able to care for her kids, she has to work. But, she can’t because she can’t find affordable child care. It’s an endless cycle.

“At first, it was like, ‘Oh this will blow over, and we’ll all get back to normal fairly soon,’ and it didn’t,” she said. “It didn’t get back to normal and it’s still not back to normal.”

The cost for child care for some is the same amount as a person’s income. As Elliott kept looking for help, whether it’d be a child care center or a babysitter, it was too much to afford.

Now, she’s looking for non-traditional jobs, trying to find another way to make money.

She tells 4 News Now she doesn’t want to be on unemployment, she’s willing and ready to work. She’s just unable to because she can’t find someone to watch her kids.

With unfulfilled jobs, some may be thinking that it’s people who are taking advantage of unemployment. Elliott doesn’t want people to think that’s everyone’s case.

“I don’t doubt that there’s people out there that’s taking advantage of it, I’m sure there are, but there’s a huge majority of us that aren’t,” she said. “We’re just waiting to be able to integrate back into the workforce.”

One way she believes that could happen is if work culture changes, breaking away from the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. She wants places to be more flexible for parents who can still work, but need to be at home with the kids.

She says she has the determination and drive to work from home, she just wants to be able to do it outside of the normal work schedule.

“If they would be willing to entertain the idea of shifting their work culture, and what they expect from their employees and focus more on productivity rather than hours spent at the office, I think it would change life tremendously for a lot of people,” she said. “It’d be all for the better.”

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