Wednesday, I attended a rally organized by the NDD Summit, a group that the National Women’s Law Center has joined that is working to protect important domestic programs that would face across-the-board cuts starting in January. These are programs that educate our children, support our elderly citizens, and help low-income women afford child care so they can work and their children can get a strong start in school. At the rally, I listened to a mother share how the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) helped her achieve self-sufficiency when she was struggling.

Three years ago, after the dissolution of her marriage, Rita Ngabo found herself jobless and homeless with a 9-month old baby. With the help of temporary cash assistance and a child care subsidy through CCDBG, Rita was able to attend classes to develop work skills and go on interviews to secure a job. As Rita says, it was hard work, but it paid off. She is now a child care case worker in Maryland who helps other parents who were in her shoes, and her daughter is thriving.

Rita is grateful for the support that put her and her daughter on the path to a better life and she enjoys being able to help other parents. But because Maryland, like many other states, has made cuts to its child care program, she can’t help most of the parents who come to her needing help with their child care costs.

There are almost 19,000 children on the waiting list for child care assistance in Maryland, and all those children have a parent who wants to work or go to school. On Monday, a mother cried in her office for two hours, but all Rita could do was listen and offer encouragement, and add another name to the waiting list.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We can invest in CCDBG and other programs that benefit women, children, and families – if we have the will. The Senate made good progress yesterday when they voted to end tax breaks for the richest two percent of Americans, but too many policymakers still want to the most vulnerable Americans to give up their health care, child care, and nutrition aid to shrink the deficit – even though they’re willing to spend $1 trillion over 10 years to give more tax breaks to the richest two percent. We owe it to the Ritas of this country to not let them get their way.