VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Lakeisha Moore is the director of the Supreme Scholars Development Center.

She just opened her third child care center location in the 757 — this time in Virginia Beach.

“I know all of my children will be kindergarten ready,” Moore said.

She says while the demand for child care in Hampton Roads has increased — so have the costs — especially with pandemic-era aid no longer in place.

“In the past year I’ve noticed the government no longer pays the copays for parents, everything was free for them during Covid, but now they have implemented those copays, so some parents have monthly fees they have to pay out of pocket,” Moore explained.

Moore says government assistance stopped in November of last year.

“We do accept the social service fee assistance, as well as military fee assistance, but there are also qualifications within those guidelines. So not everyone qualifies. If you are a working family and make over $5,000 a month, I know that may sound like a lot of money, but with cost of living it’s really not. Those families don’t qualify,” Moore said.

She says the fees her daycares charge have nearly doubled in the past year to keep up with the cost of living.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, as of June 2023, the average annual cost of infant care in Virginia is $1,172 per month.

“We can’t put childcare before our rent, you know, we have to have a place to stay. So even though daycare is one of the main priority things you should be paying, you can’t put that above your rent or your car note,” Moore said.

Kristina Hagen is the director for Affordable Virginia, a grassroots campaign that fights for solutions to challenges facing working families.

“What we saw during the pandemic when the federal government allocated funds to support the childcare sector, I think Americans we really saw across the board for the first time what child care providers have known for a very long time to be true, which is when we invest in child care the whole economy benefits … we need robust and permanent funding in investments in child care,” Hagen emphasized.

WAVY reached out to Congresswoman Jen Kiggans to learn if she has any future plans to implement child care funding. Her statement reads as follows:

“As a working mother of four who utilized daycare services, I am well aware of the challenges faced by families balancing work and household responsibilities. Providing safe, affordable, and accessible childcare is not only important for working parents, but also for our economy and the development of our future workforce. Simply put, the lack of access to child care is impeding the American dream for too many. I can assure you that I am working with my colleagues in Congress, both Democrat and Republican, to identify opportunities to support families in our community.”

Additionally, her team flagged this letter that Kiggans wrote to the chairman and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies in support of robust funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).