Action Alert: The Time for Public Child Care is Now
“The current child care market fails families, children, and businesses. Parents are often unable to find a child care program with an open spot for their infant or toddler. If there are available options, they typically are not affordable. Infant child care costs families an average of $11,000 per year and is more than the price of public college in 33 states.”
America lacks sufficient child care, and the care that does exist is often too costly or unavailable.
Average salaries are failing to meet the cost of living, even when both parents are working. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25/hour; this wage has remained unchanged for 13 years and was last raised in 2009. Working full-time at the federal minimum wage equates to just $15,000 annually which does not constitute a living wage for families anywhere in the United States.
In some states, including Minnesota, Hawaii and Rhode Island, minimum wage has increased to more than $10/hour, which equates to $20,000 annually. This is still not a living wage for most families in the United States.
Government assistance and limited childcare may be available to some families who earn low wages, but just 1 in 6 families who are eligible for child care subsidies receive them. And programs like Early Head Start, which provide family-centered services for low-income families, remain severely under-resourced, reaching just 3 percent of eligible children. This leaves many low-waged parents struggling to find affordable housing, adequate food, stable employment and reasonably priced child care.
Our lack of publicly funded child care continues to keep many parents unemployed.
According to the Center for American Progress: “Lack of licensed child care has adverse effects on babies, parents, and the economy. Without reliable and affordable child care options, parents often must choose between spending a huge portion of their budget on child care, using less convenient or lower-quality care arrangements, cutting back their work hours, or patching together some combination of these options. Many mothers are forced to leave the workforce altogether because of child care struggles, which can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their careers.”
We have seen the devastating impact on employment when parents can’t find child care, especially for mothers and families of color.
Federally-funded universal child care is one of the most popular ideas on the left, but many on the right don’t want to “care for other people’s children” and view public child care as an unnecessary burden. These individuals fail to recognize the importance of free infant and toddler care, universal Pre-K, and safe child care in general. Without access to care, young children miss out on the developmental, socio-emotional, and academic benefits of quality early learning.
Zero to Three has a great deal of information on the importance of brain development in the newborn child. Through their campaign “Think Babies and Act for Childcare”, they provide an easy form to contact your Senator directly (here).
If you support public child care, let your legislators know: access to child care is necessary for joyful children, thriving families, and a strong economy.
Thank you for supporting our children and families!