American Fork mom advocates for better child care options in Utah
After American Fork’s Amy Upchurch had her first son, Oliver, she realized that working outside the home helped her feel more fulfilled as an individual.
Upchurch realized that, in addition to the financial benefits of bringing in a second income, rejoining the workforce helped her be more present as a mother.
“I had every intention to be a stay-at-home-mom when I first had my son Oliver, but after about a year of being home with him, I decided I really wanted to go back to work because I felt like I had talent, and things that I wanted to continue working on,” Upchurch said. “I wanted to contribute back to society, and add to our family finances more than anything.”
As a first-generation college graduate, Upchurch now works in the nonprofit sector. However, when the time came for Upchurch and her husband to begin looking for child care, they were disappointed by the lack of options — and the high cost of what was available.
“I was very surprised by how difficult it was. Most of the places I was calling that had availability had outrageous tuition prices for what I was gonna be getting paid going back into the workforce,” Upchurch said. “The ones that were affordable, a lot of those were in-home facilities … and they had waitlists, all of them were full.”
After contacting 12 different child care providers, Upchurch only ended up finding one that had an opening for Oliver at a rate her family could afford.
“We lucked out because she’s been a great help to our family, but it was slim pickings, and I was very shocked,” Upchurch said.
After sharing her experience with friends and coworkers, Upchurch quickly realized that she wasn’t alone in the struggle to find child care in Utah County.
“I found that I wasn’t the only parent struggling with this … they were all struggling to find child care that was reasonably priced for what they were making, or within a decent distance,” she said.
That’s when Upchurch became involved with ZERO TO THREE, a national organization dedicated to promoting the well-being of babies and toddlers by providing resources, tools and responsive policies to parents, professionals and policymakers.
On May 17, Upchurch had the opportunity to virtually meet with staffers for U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens. She told them her story and shared the importance of investing in child care affordable options.
Upchurch is Utah’s representative in ZERO TO THREE’s sixth annual Strolling Thunder advocacy day, which is dedicated to giving families across the country the opportunity to share their experiences raising young children.
Upchurch discussed potential programs and policy changes that would benefit parents of young children, including making child care more affordable for Utah families, and giving them access to more child care options.
“It was two, 15-minute phone calls with their (Romney and Owens) staff members, and they were extremely polite and friendly, and they heard me out on my story, they heard me out on policy changes that I feel like myself and other parents would benefit from in the state,” she said. “That was a very positive experience.”
Upchurch’s biggest hope is that the staffers don’t forget their conversation, that they meet with their bosses and that the movement toward more child care options for Utah residents only continues to gain momentum.
“I would just hate for it to be a one-time deal, I really encourage the senator and the representative to continue thinking about this and continue pushing for these matters,” she said. “This really does contribute to our economy by allowing more parents to be in the workforce.”