I have a PhD. I have an decent job (i.e. the pay ain't great, but we are living well above the poverty line). To pay for what Husband and I consider quality care for the Bean, it costs (almost to the penny) one of my two paychecks each month. We pay more for childcare than any other household expense. Our childcare is 1.5X our mortgage payment. And that's just for one kid. Childcare is really expensive.
Now, imagine that I didn't have a decent job, I had a crappy job. What if I were a single parent? What if I were making the choice between a good childcare situation and putting food on the table?
I think we're all familiar with your average middle class family, tightening their belts to pay for childcare. But what about the working poor?
Simply put, the importance of childcare to the working poor can not be overstated. Government childcare assistance is woefully inadequate, leaving the vast majority of eligible families uncovered... the funding just isn't there. And for those receiving assistance, subsidies still do not enable access to anything other than custodial care.
Childcare availability, affordability and quality all have a dramatic affect on the participation of low-income women in the labor force. Childcare is critical component in helping low-income families be self-sufficient.
What needs to be done? In 2003, the Institute for Women's Policy Research recommended that we:
-Increase state and federal funding of to increase childcare subsidy benefits.
-Expand childcare assistance to the working poor, not just limiting funds to families who are coming off welfare.
-Improve the quality of childcare available to the working poor, specifically by opening developmental childcare centers in low-income communities, or by provinding grants for existing centers.
How to get involved?
Let's help make childcare and early childhood education an issue in the 2008 election. Here's how you can help.
Sign up for, and donate to, Moms Rising, a spin-off of the high-profile site MoveOn.Org. A PAC supporting REAL family values.
Blog About it. Let's make childcare a national priority.