Lost and Found: Financial Challenges in Accessing Quality Educational Childcare
Change Maker Sponsor - United Way of Greater Toledo

Lost and Found: Financial Challenges in Accessing Quality Educational Childcare

United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in Lucas, Wood and Ottawa County.


Mary* remembers the first day she met Claire*. The two-year-old’s dark brown eyes stared off into the distance and she barely spoke a word. Even though she looked lost, there was still this innocent twinkle of hope one felt while watching her sit silently.

As a member of the Catholic Club program staff, over the years Mary saw a lot of little ones in our community who have faced difficult challenges. But Claire and her intense, lost stare, held a special space in Mary’s heart.

Claire spent the first few years of her life being moved around from one home to the next. First, she was under the care of Lucas County Children Services and later with her mother in a shelter. By the time she enrolled in Catholic Club programming, after returning to live with her mother, Claire’s language skills were dramatically underdeveloped. She had severe social and emotional delays, and she was extremely withdrawn from children and adults alike.

Looking at her today, one wouldn’t guess the challenges and barriers she continues to overcome thanks to the services the Catholic Club program provided her with—services Claire almost lost because of an all too familiar challenge: the inability to afford quality educational childcare during the most important developmental period of a child’s life.

The hardest part of Mary’s job is watching a child struggle. What’s even worse is when that struggle is linked to something that can be easily fixed. Personal finances shouldn’t stunt a child’s social, emotional and educational growth—but the reality is...it does.

Claire’s mother received government subsidies to help pay for her childcare fees. But, when the storm clouds of her past reconvened, Mary watched helplessly as she again lost custody of her little girl.

Fortunately, this time around, Claire’s aunt was granted legal guardianship. But soon, she discovered she was in a difficult financial situation. She didn’t qualify for government subsidies and she also couldn’t afford Claire’s childcare fees on her own.

Mary feared all the social, emotional and
educational progress Claire had made during
her time at Catholic Club would be lost.

It was clear how much Claire blossomed under the attentiveness of Catholic Club teachers. But, staying enrolled required Claire be under the guardianship of someone who could afford the program or qualify for the government subsidies—which is not as easy as it sounds.

With hope nearly lost, Claire’s aunt reached out to Mary for a solution, determined to do what she could for Claire.

Today, watching Claire inquisitively explore the classroom with a toy magnifying glass, allowed Mary to again see the pronounced twinkle of hope she once found in her big brown eyes. Smiling to herself, Mary remembered that sigh of relief from Claire’s aunt when she found out about the scholarship money available, in part through the support of United Way of Greater Toledo.

Claire’s face tells the story of a small child lost and then found. And, looking at her now, Mary was proud to know that despite all the hurdles Claire had coming into this world, she had played a small role to set Claire up to find success in the future.


CHANGE MAKER ACTION: Because of your support, United Way of Greater Toledo is able to focus on kindergarten readiness and helping children like Claire grow and flourish by making childcare fees affordable. By donating below, you can help local children become ready for kindergarten and beyond.

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*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by Catholic Club, on behalf of their Catholic Club educational programming. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.

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