Why Affordable Childcare is Critical for Our Community
Finding affordable childcare is one of the biggest challenges for working adults in the United States. While a few decades ago it was possible for one parent to stay home full-time to be with young children, today it is increasingly difficult for families to make ends meet on one income.
There are many reasons why providing affordable childcare has been a frequent conversation topic in recent years, but here are a few of the difficulties that parents face when making tough decisions about childcare:
The stay-at-home parent sacrifices income and opportunities. One choice for families is to have one parent stay home with young children until they are ready to go to kindergarten. This carries one obvious difficulty in its significant reduction of income for the family.
It also has some subtle disadvantages that can impact the stay-at-home parent and the ability of the family to thrive. A stay-at-home parent significantly reduces their lifetime income opportunities, as well as sacrificing opportunities for career development and promotions as they care for children. They also reduce the amount of money they have contributed to Social Security, allowing them to receive less when they reach retirement age.
Childcare costs are one of the largest expenses for working families and is extremely challenging for young single mothers. Parents paying out-of-pocket for childcare in order for both parents to stay in the workforce often face a shocking price for quality care. In nearly all states, childcare costs exceeded the average rent payment. Childcare ate up more than 10 percent of a family’s income, and it increased to about one-quarter of a family’s income when including only single mothers.
Young mothers face even larger challenges, particularly those trying to finalize a degree program after having children. Mothers under the age of 25 generally earn less than their older counterparts, too, so their total childcare costs can account for one-third of their earnings. Mothers living below the poverty line may spend up to 42 percent of their income on childcare, making it difficult to use employment as a stepping stone out of poverty.
Federal and state funded programs are not widely available. The third option, taking advantage of federal and state programs that fund preschool programs, is a great idea. However, there is little available for those families that cannot afford to lose one breadwinner’s income.
Only about 22 percent of low income families receive federally subsidized care. While there has been an increase in preschool participation across the country in recent years, low-income families are the least likely to participate. Forty percent are not enrolled in preschool at all.
The importance of high-quality affordable childcare is felt by families across the country and in our community. To learn more about affordable childcare in the St. Joseph area, give us a call today. We help women in transition connect with the services they need to thrive.