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Childcare costs are sucking U.S. parents dry and still leaving early childhood teachers in poverty

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Parents in the U.S. pay a staggering amount for care for their young children—and here, as in so many other areas, the support they get from their government falls short of what peer nations provide. A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows just how big the problem is, and what it’s costing the economy.

With government spending predictably lagging other countries (as a share of GDP), parents spend $42 billion a year on early care and education. It’s so expensive that many parents leave the paid workforce or scale back their hours, losing $30-35 billion in the process.

Meanwhile, the patchwork early care and education system leaves many teachers wildly underpaid, with a median of $25,218 a year in salry. Almost one in five live in poverty. The teacher at a preschool makes dramatically less than the kindergarten teacher who gets the same kids a year later.

Several of the Democrats running for president have proposed major overhauls of this broken system: universal childcare was one of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s first policy plans, Sen. Bernie Sanders has endorsed universal childcare in broader strokes, and Pete Buttigieg has an ambitious plan as well.

Check out the details of early care and education funding for your state.

This article was originally published at Daily Kos on January 20, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributor at Daily Kos editor since December 2006. Full-time staff since 2011, currently assistant managing editor.

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33% of Parents Went Into Debt to Pay for Summer Childcare in 2018

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Kids don’t necessarily look forward to the end of summer break, but for working parents in America, the start of a new school year can mean relief from the months of uncertainty, stress and financial cost that comes with having few viable childcare options when school’s out. A lack of childcare infrastructure in the United States leaves many working families scrambling to find someone to watch their children, desperately trying to keep their kids safe while they’re at work.

But it’s not just a summer problem. For working families, especially single-parent households, finding quality, affordable and accessible day care can be a year-round struggle—one that more hot-button issues like healthcare and jobs often take priority over when elections come around. Some 2020 Democratic candidates want to change that: Elizabeth Warren has made government-funded universal childcare a tenet of her campaign strategy, a concept several other candidates also support.

These 11 statistics show why childcare is such a source of anxiety for American families:

$9,600 – Average annual cost of childcare nationwide, per child, in 2017

55% – People who said childcare costs were a significant financial challenge in 2018

33% – Parents who went into debt to pay for summer childcare in 2018

51% – People living in “childcare deserts” (areas with three times more children than licensed childcare slots) in 2017

19 – States whose childcare assistance programs had waitlists or frozen intake in 2018

67% – Children who have all available parents working outside the industry home as of 2017

16% – Private-industry employees who had access to paid family leave in 2018

37% – Average portion of annual income that single parents spend on childcare

7% – Recommended portion of annual income to be spent on childcare, according to the Department of Health and Human Services

18.3% – Mothers with children ages 3 and younger working outside the home for a median wage of $10.50 or less in 2016

$23,240 – Median annual income for childcare workers in 2018

 

This article was originally published at InTheseTimes on October 2, 2019. Reprinted with permission.


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Rising Child Care Costs Push Women out of the Workforce

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seiu-org-logoThe job market hasn’t always been kind to young mothers of color. Rising child care costs, a badly lagging minimum wage, and persistently high unemployment has forced many of these women out of the workforce and into the role of the stay-at-home-mom.

We’ve been trained to believe the typical stay-at-home-mom is a rich, white suburbanite. However, new research from the Pew Research Center refutes this stereotype and paints a picture of today’s stay-at-home-mom as a young, woman of color, often born outside of the United States, less likely to have a college education, and more likely to live in poverty than working moms.

According to Pew, the number of stay-at-home-moms in the United States with children under the age of 18 has grown to nearly 30 percent. Up from 23 percent in 1999.

As Pew notes, “with incomes stagnant in recent years for all but the college-educated, less educated workers in particular may weigh the cost of child care against wages and decide it makes more economic sense to stay home.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 1985 and 2011, the cost per week for child care for a family with a working mother and children under the age of 15 increased from $84 to $143 a week. Meanwhile, wages have remained unchanged or even dipped depending on education level. Even more alarming, states have failed to keep up with the demand for child care assistance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that so many mothers and families depend on has been cut. Not to mention the threat of additional cuts from Paul Ryan’s disastrous budget has created a full-blown crisis for young working moms.

For many women, especially those in low-wage positions–if your chances of receiving a promotion are low, and full-time child care for one child can average anywhere between $4,000 to $16,000 a year–why remain in the workforce if child care costs are more expensive than your salary?

Today’s mothers should be able to choose if they want to remain in the workforce or become a stay-at-home-mom. They shouldn’t be forced to make these decisions based on the high costs of child care or low wages. All families deserve access to quality, affordable child care and jobs that pay a living wage.

This article was originally printed on SEIU on April 15, 2014.  Reprinted with permission.

Author: Courtney-Rose Dantus


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