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Child Care

Low-Wage Jobs, High-Cost Child Care, and Stay-at-Home Moms

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 »

The Sweet Reality of a 23 Cent per Hour Raise

Women only make 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. Big deal?

The biggest.

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.

Child Care and Head Start Success Stories Show Need for More Investment - Not Cuts

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 »

When $9.49 Isn't Enough: HBO's Revealing Portrait of One Working Mother

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 »

"Getting Organized" Update Details Advances and Setbacks in the Movement to Organize Home-Based Child Care Providers

“Get organized.”

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 »

Take Action for Children and Families

This week your Senators could vote to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). If it passes, this victory will be an important step in building a strong early learning system.

Call 202-224-3121 and urge your Senators to vote YES to reauthorize CCDBG! It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Read more »

President's FY15 Budget Proposal Highlights Early Learning

There is good news for young children in President Obama’s budget proposal. The President demonstrates his continued commitment to ensuring children have a strong start by proposing significant new investments in early learning. These investments would support more high-quality options for infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children. The investments would be funded through base discretionary and mandatory funding as well as through a new Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative. This initiative would be supported by savings from changes to mandatory programs and the reduction of a tax break for wealthy individuals, with the additional funding split between defense and domestic programs, including early learning programs. The President’s budget would also fund a major expansion of high-quality preschool programs for four-year-olds through a tobacco tax increase, as proposed in last year’s budget. Read more »

Fact: The Child CARE Act Would Help Working Families Pay for Child Care

Fact: There are more households with working parents than ever before.  Fewer than 1 in 3 children today have a full-time, stay-at-home parent.    

Fact: Child care is incredibly expensive—disproportionately so for low-income families.  The average cost of full-time care ranges from $3,900 to $15,000 a year, depending on where the family lives, the type of care, and the age of the child.  Low-income families who use paid child care spend over 32 percent of their income on child care every month [PDF] (five times the percentage that families living above 200% of the federal poverty level spend). 

Fact: Mothers—including those who work full-time outside the home—continue to shoulder more caregiving responsibilities at home—and pay the price of reduced income over time.

Fact: Currently available child care assistance is inadequate to address the real needs of real families—especially low-income families.  In 2013, nineteen states had child care assistance waiting lists that ranged from a few months to a few years.

Fact: Families who pay for child care throughout the year are eligible for a federal tax credit to recover a portion of the cost of care—but this credit provides limited benefits to low-income families because it is not refundable.   

Fact: The Child CARE Act, just introduced in Congress, would amend the federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) and make it more responsive to the needs and realities of low-income families who are currently struggling to cover the cost of child care.

The Child CARE Act, sponsored by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), makes two key changes to the current CDCTC: Read more »

A Strong Start: Act on PreK

Last night in his State of the Union Address, the President recommitted to ensuring that all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds have access to a high-quality prekindergarten experience. This is an important goal to keep on the front burner. And it is one that is widely shared. 

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans believe that ensuring all children have access to preschool education is an absolute priority this year, according to a new poll [PDF]. These poll results are consistent with four earlier polls showing that an overwhelming majority of the American public agree that better early childhood education is very important as is public funding to provide children with access to these programs. This support held among both parents and non-parents, and both Democrats and Republicans. 

High-quality early education is also supported by a growing number of state and local elected officials from both parties. Already this year, New York City Mayor De Blasio and New York Governor Cuomo have offered plans to expand prekindergarten. California's Senate leader Darrell Steinberg is heading a legislative effort to extend preschool to all of the state's four-year-olds. Indiana Governor Mike Pence is championing a new state investment in preschool. Other governors have made the expansion of preschool a focus of their state agendas as well. 

Support for preschool is bolstered by research showing that high-quality preschool is one of the key strategies to help close the achievement gap and reduce inequality in our country. Read more »

A Step Forward for Early Learning

Congress has finally drafted a budget to cover all federal spending for FY 2014 — an omnibus appropriations bill — and thanks to the growing recognition of the importance of investing in high-quality early care and education, and tireless efforts by advocates, it includes significant increases in funding for early learning, despite a very austere budget context. Read more »