For Stevie Vargas, an advocate with the Alliance for Quality Education, child care isn't just another issue. It's a concern she lives with every day as the adoptive mother of her 4-year-old nephew.
The formal adoption earlier this year allowed Vargas to officially become his mother, but because of state law, it meant she is shouldering the cost of child care.
"I tried to stayed in as long as possible until he was a little bit older just so I wouldn't have the burden of child care," she said.
Vargas pays more than $1,000 a month in child care costs for her son. But proposed solutions like universal funding for child care programs aren't a one-size-fits-all solution.
"What universal child care looks like for parents and what it looks like for providers may be very different," Vargas said. "And I think we both have to come to the table and figure out what that means. We live in a country with a lot of resources and a lot of wealth. What are we prioritizing?"
Vargas believes child care is an issue she says policy makers in Albany and Washington need to spend more time on, especially for families that are struggling.
"Child care should be a human right," Vargas said. "It's necessary for our communities to function. It's necessary for people to go to work."
And like many other aspects of life since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has put child care needs for families -- especially those where parents and guardians have in-person jobs -- at the forefront.
"Child care centers and providers were struggling to get money prior," Vargas said. "We saw how slowly CARES Act funding from the first package was released. It still has not been fully released."
Vargas also points to her own experience with child care needs, the babysitting her family members sometimes do to help out, that the issue doesn't just affect people with children.