Parents across America think and talk about child care every day. It isn’t every day, though, that the President, Vice President, First Lady, and former Speaker of the House all talk about child care—but that’s exactly what they all did at yesterday’s White House Summit on Working Families. They shared their own past experiences struggling to work while ensuring their children were well cared for. Michelle Obama spoke about the time years ago (before entering the White House) when her carefully constructed balance between work and family fell apart when her trusted child care provider left to find a better-paying job. Nancy Pelosi reminisced about her experiences raising five young children born six years apart. The speakers went on to emphasize the need to help other parents—especially those dealing with much more challenging circumstances than their own—find and afford high-quality child care.
At the Summit, a broad range of policy makers, business leaders, workers, and advocates—including National Women’s Law Center Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell, who spoke on a panel on caregiving—highlighted how high-quality child care and early education benefits all of us. It enables parents to get and keep a job and work with peace of mind that their children are in safe, nurturing settings. It enables children to learn and grow and prepares them for success in school and in life. It gives businesses more loyal, more productive employees, which boosts profits. All of these benefits combine to produce a stronger economy, now and in the future. Read more »
Together, we’re releasing a preliminary report with survey and focus group findings from participatory research conducted by the worker justice organizations that illuminate these challenges – along with preliminary ideas about where we go from here.Read the report here. Read more »
As the White House Summit on Working Families draws near, we’re looking forward to this opportunity to highlight not only how crucial child care is to the success of working parents but also the challenges parents — particularly low-income parents — face in finding and affording high-quality care.
While parents are at work, they think about how their kids are doing. They need the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their children are in a safe, nurturing environment. They need to know that their children are developing the social and learning skills that they need to be successful in school and in life. In short, they need high-quality child care. Yet many parents cannot afford it. Full-time child care for one child can average $4,000 to $16,000 a year [PDF], depending on where the family lives, the age of the child, and the type of care.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one explains pretty clearly why every child needs a strong start:
My oldest son has been going to family child care since he was about 6 months old. Three years later, he’s still there (joined by his younger brother) and as you might be able to tell based on the above photo, he’s doing very well! His teacher recently sent this to me after my big boy completed one of his morning assignments – he had to fill in missing letters in words. Needless to say I was even more proud of him than usual. And when I saw him later that day, he was beaming with pride himself!
The percentage of mothers who stayed at home increased from a low of 23 percent in 1999 to 29 percent in 2012, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center [PDF]. This represents a turn-around from the trend in previous decades, when the percentage of mothers who stayed at home steadily declined from 47 percent in 1970.
There are many possible explanations for the recent increase in the number of mothers staying at home—but economic factors clearly play a major part.
Women deciding to enter today’s labor force face daunting prospects—unemployment rates remain well above pre-recession levels and jobs are hard to come by. In fact, Pew reports that the share of women who stay home with their children because they cannot find a job has risen by five percentage points since 2000. And when jobs can be found, they are very low-wage. NWLC analysis shows that over one-third of women’s job gains [PDF] since 2009 have been in the 10 largest low-wage occupations, which typically pay $10.10 or less per hour. Read more »
Women only make 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. Big deal?
Twenty-three cents may not sound like much, but for me, that change would add up – and it would have a meaningful impact. Here’s how:
With a 23-cent raise for every dollar I earn, I could pay off my student loans in less than two years, compared with the 7 years that it will take me now. But I’m not all business. Maybe I wouldn’t spend the entire raise on student loans – maybe I’d eat out somewhere nice, treat myself to a new book, or buy a train ticket for a weekend away. Even if I spent just half of this increased income repaying my loan debt, it would shave off four years of monthly payments. And if I wanted to be the responsible adult my parents keep telling me to be, I could forgo (some of) that fun and use the other half to put away monthly retirement savings, something I cannot currently afford to do.
Congressman Paul Ryan released his budget blueprint today and, although it does not provide detailed proposals on funding for each federal program, his budget would severely reduce overall discretionary funding, a category that encompasses many programs that benefit women and their families. Meeting Ryan’s budget targets would likely require deep cuts in programs such as child care assistance and Head Start—programs that enable families to make ends meet and to ultimately improve their lives. The positive impacts of these and other supports are vividly illustrated by the stories collected in a new booklet by Half in Ten. Our American Story: Personal Stories on the War on Poverty’s Legacy [PDF] compiles the stories of 30 individuals who have been helped by programs that have given parents the chance to work and obtain education credentials that enable them to gain more stable and better-paying employment, and that have given their children learning opportunities they need to succeed in the future.
In one of these stories, Rebecca of Barnesville, Minnesota describes how she and her family have succeeded thanks to safety net programs: Read more »
If you want a harrowing reminder of the human reality of the policies, and spending priorities, that NWLC champions, look no further than HBO’s new documentary, “Paycheck to Paycheck, the Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert.” The new film profiles Katrina Gilbert, a 30-year-old single mother of three children, all under the age of 5, living and working in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In my work at the National Women’s Law Center, sometimes among all the statistics and infographics, if you’re not careful it’s possible to lose sight of the daily reality of the 18 million women living in poverty. Yet watching each facet of Katrina’s story I was continually reminded of how the public policies that may seem abstract would have tangible consequences for Katrina and her family. Read more »
It’s a rallying cry for workers across many industries who face challenging employment conditions. By organizing to negotiate collectively with employers, workers have sought better compensation and improved on-the-job conditions. In a number of states, home-based child care providers who serve families receiving state child care assistance or are regulated by the state have sought authorization to join unions and negotiate with the state. Providers seeking to join these unions – which may include, depending on the state, regulated family child care (FCC) providers who may or may not be receiving public funds to provide care to children from low-income families and family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) providers who are exempt from regulation but serve children receiving state child care assistance – have met with mixed success, but this organizing strategy remains a promising approach to improving the pay and working conditions of this overwhelmingly female and poorly paid workforce and increasing state investments in child care. Read more »