Have you ever seen the Youtube video “A Day Without Child Care?" Although it is presented in a humorous manner, the issues are nothing to laugh about. The video addresses real life concerns such as inaccessibility of child care services, the high cost of child care, low wages paid to child care professionals, the needs of families to be able to go to work/school, the impact of child care on children’s development and school readiness and the ripple effects of child care on the economy.
Finding child care can be difficult for many families. In some of Iowa’s rural communities there may not be a Registered Child Development Home provider, a child care center, or an afterschool program. Transportation constraints to/from a nearby program can also make it difficult for families to go to work/school and to secure accessible child care. According to the US Department of Labor, 72% of employee absenteeism results from issues related to child care.
The cost of child care is skyrocketing. “For a family earning the median state income of $61,990 with an infant in child care they would pay 11% of their income before taxes if their child was in a registered home and 16% of their income before taxes if their child was in a licensed center.” (Data supplied from IowaCCRR.org) Because of the high cost of child care, some couples are deciding not to have children because they feel they can’t afford it. Other families are forced to make decisions around work schedules and what they can afford to pay for child care.
Child care professionals are among some of the lowest paid workers in our nation. In 2014, the University of California, Berkley produced a report titled “Worthy Work, Still Unlivable Wages.” The report indicates that child care professionals are so poorly paid that they qualify for public support programs and have excessive worry around their livelihoods. Programs such as TEACH and WAGE$ help support child care professionals, yet increased investments are necessary to assist them in earning a living wage.
Child care is intended to help families raise children. Because children spend a great deal of time in child care, the impacts of child care on children’s development and school readiness is critical. 80% of brain development occurs before a child turns three years old. (Data supplied from ZeroToThree.org) We must ensure that all children who need it have accessibility to a high quality child care program if we want to ensure children are ready to succeed in school and later in life.
In my honest opinion, increased investments to the entire early care and education field must be made. Our nation needs to make family security a priority. By ensuring that child care is accessible and affordable, it allows parents/guardians to go to work/school. By investing in child care professionals, we enhance their education level and increase their wages and ability to support their own families (and in turn their taxes paid to support the economy). By ensuring that children have access to high quality programs, we ensure they are ready to enter school and are at a higher likelihood to succeed in life. In Iowa, we try to “Ensure that all children, beginning at birth, will be healthy and successful.” It’s time our state and the nation begins to make the investments necessary for us to do that.
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