“Child Care is unaffordable across America.”
That’s what the national nonprofit Child Care Aware declared last month when it released the report “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2017.”
The report as well as an interactive map with state data and a social media kit all provide an overview of the challenges and useful tools for advocates who want to raise public and legislative awareness.
“Right now, a single parent who works and has an infant in a child care center pays more than 27 percent of household income for care – and that is unacceptable,” a Child Care Aware blog explains.
How much should families pay on average? No more than 7 percent of their income, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimate made in 2016.
Among the high cost states is Massachusetts, “the least affordable state for families of infants or toddlers in center-based care,” which cost annually $20,125 for infants and $18,586 for toddlers. Four-year-old care in Massachusetts is slightly lower at $14,256, but as the report calculates, that’s 50 percent of the state median income for a single parent, and 12 percent of SMI for a married couple.
Child care costs are particularly tough for low-income parents, including child care workers who pay half their incomes to cover care costs for two children.
Parents who can’t find affordable child care, often can’t participate fully in the workforce, and that hurts employers and the economy.
One woman, a teacher and a mother of three girls, who is quoted in the report says, “My desire to obtain a comfortable lifestyle meant another human had to perform duties no labor union would ever allow: 10-hour-plus workdays five days a week with no benefits or overtime. There has to be a better solution for mothers on both sides of the child care door. Our children deserve it. Our humanity demands it.”
Another single parent who is a Millennial says, “Child care shouldn’t be this expensive. Give mothers more time off, or offer alternatives so that the child doesn’t have to attend child care five days a week. Raise the income requirements for state assistance. There are so many answers and solutions, but nothing is being done.”
What could be done? Child Care makes a number of recommendations, including:
• expand funding for child care through the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant
• pass the Promoting Affordable Child Care For Everyone (PACE) Act of 2017, to “help provide relief for families by offsetting child care costs via tax credits,”
• provide child care support for parents attending college
• invest in pilot programs “in high-poverty rural communities to explore strategies that braid multiple funding sources to better meet the child care needs,” and
• require states “to have more effective sliding-fee assistance phase-out plans, to ensure that parents who receive a modest raise do not lose all child care assistance”
The report concludes:
“Through careful planning by the government at the federal, state and local levels, we can ensure that quality, affordable child care settings are available for working parents in every community. The status quo is unacceptable. It is well past time to take significant action for our children, and our country’s economic future.”
Be sure to check out the report’s handy social media toolkit for talking points and sample posts.