It’s Time to Fix Child Care.
Child care is needed now more than ever. Today's workforce has changed dramatically. Seventy-eight percent of all parents with very young children are working. Thirteen million Americans in their prime working years have a child under the age of six. Nearly 60 percent of preschoolers in America under the age of five are in child care arrangements with nonparental providers.
Quality child care is unaffordable. It exceeds the cost of college tuition in 28 states. In Massachusetts, families annually pay an average of $17,062 for ONE infant. That's $6,000 more than in-state tuition for a four-year public college.
Quality child care is hard to find. Fifty-one percent of Americans live in child-care deserts in which there are either no licensed child care providers for children younger than five or there is less than one slot in a licensed child care center for every three children.
Child care is critical to economic equity, especially for women. Inadequate access to affordable, high-quality child care threatens family economic stability and contributes to reduced worker wages. This is particularly true for women: child care accounts for 80 percent of the gender wage gap and directly contributes to gender disparities in leadership positions.
Investing in Child Care Is a Win for Everybody.
Increased Workforce Participation and Education Achievement
Investment in child care supports regional economic growth: it supports labor force participation and promotes the educational attainment of parents in the workforce.
Thirteen million Americans in their prime working years have a child under the age of six.
Sixty percent of women with children younger than five are in the workforce. Seventy-five percent plus of working mothers say that they’ve passed up work opportunities, switched jobs, or quit because of child care issues. Thirty percent of working mothers who give birth in the United States never return to their jobs because of child care issues.
Benefits for Business
Lack of access to child care is a significant barrier that decreases employee productivity and limits an employer’s ability to recruit and retain talent and to demonstrate gender diversity in leadership positions. Employers lose three billion dollars in revenue annually because of employee absenteeism that results from child care breakdowns.
Losing an employee due to child care issues can cost an employer 20 percent of an hourly employee’s annual wages and up to 150 percent of a manager’s salary.
When companies provide child care, employee absences decrease by 30 percent. Job turnover declines by 60 percent.
The majority of brain development takes place before a child’s fifth birthday. Early brain development has a lasting impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and in the workforce.
Children who do not attend early learning programs until kindergarten often start off one year behind their peers in math and verbal skills. Kindergarten-readiness skills are often highly predictive of a child’s academic, economic, and social outcomes into early adulthood. This is the root of the achievement gap and correlates to lower rates of high school graduation, rates of employment, and lifetime earnings.
A child’s vocabulary at three years old is predictive of her or his reading level in the third grade. Children who do not read proficiently by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school when compared to those who read proficiently at grade level.
By the fourth grade, children who entered kindergarten without adequate readiness skills are up to 80 percent more likely to have repeated a grade.
We Can Pave a New Way Forward.
The child care market is fundamentally broken. It is failing our families, crippling our workforce, and short-changing our children. It is time to move in a new direction entirely: towards a publicly supported system of high-quality, affordable, and accessible child care centers and in-home family providers.
We know it can be done. Our reform agenda points to U.S. Military Child Care and other home-grown programs in the United States as proof points that a state can invest in and sustain a true child care program – one that offers families access to a system of high-quality, affordable child care providers. It’s only a matter of will. Join us in the fight for change.