RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Affordable child care for all is the message of the United Campus Workers of Virginia, a state-wide union that focuses on campaigning for accessible and affordable college campus child care services.

On Tuesday, the UCWV headed to the state Capitol for the second year in a row to attend Lobby Day, calling for legislative action for affordable child care for campus workers and students. Members claim child care is a labor issue at its core.

They want to make child care affordable for all, saying that it's possible to have free, accessible child care, giving West Virginia as an example of a state that has already made it happen.

Some students from the University of Virginia, College of William and Mary, and Virginia Commonwealth University members of UCWV. Crystal Luo, the UCWV treasurer and a UVA grad student worker, says that since the pandemic, child care has become even less affordable.

"We're in a nationwide crisis right now of a lack of child care period. With a lack of child care workers, a lack of center care availability. And on top of that, what is available is increasingly unaffordable," she said. "I know that UVA does have child care centers, but these centers have months-long wait lists that you basically have to get on as soon as you know you're going to have a kid to have any chance.”

With rising inflation and higher cost of living, some people are having to choose between their career and their family, which is making UCWV’s mission of advocating for affordable child care even more important this year.

"I, for instance, would have really loved to have been able to start a family while I was in my program. I've been in this program for six years. I’m in my late 20s. I think that, you know, if I had the economic means to do so, it's something I would have wanted for myself," said Luo. "But because child care is just so inaccessible and unaffordable, it’s not a decision I'm able to make. And I don't think that's a choice that our employers or our state government really should be able to kind of make for us by not giving us the option of affordable child care.”

She goes on to mention that one of the many public goods that universities can do is provide their students, workers and even the community with accessible, and ideally, free child care.

It's also important to note that child care workers themselves are often underpaid and overworked.

A recent report from the Commonwealth Institute found Virginia ranks 10th out of 50 states for the most expensive child care in America. On average, it costs between $10,000 and $14,000 per year.

So a person making minimum wage would need to work roughly 32 weeks full-time in order to afford child care.

This year, the UCWV had roughly 45 people join its fight to encourage Virginia’s politicians to invest in lower-cost, higher-quality care for the next generation.