Affordable child care is important for all parents. However, it’s crucial for women in the workforce. The cost of child care is directly affecting women’s ability to stay engaged in the workforce and, in turn, the country’s ability to be economically competitive.
In a recent study published in Socius, researchers found states where child care is more expensive and school days are shorter, mothers’ odds of full-time employment are lower. Women are still the most likely caregivers and thus their employment and career options are directly impacted by their access to affordable child care. So what these two things mean: women are more likely to work in states that have more affordable child care and longer school days.
In a 2018 survey conducted by the Center for American Progress (CAP), “mothers were 40% more likely than fathers to report that they had personally felt the negative impact of child care issues on their careers.”
In many cases, chid care issues are causing women to leave the workforce altogether. Per CAP, “Over the past two decades, women’s labor force participation in the United States has stalled while other major developed nations have seen continued growth. The high cost of child care is partly to blame: One study found that the rising cost of child care resulted in an estimated 13% decline in the employment of mothers with children under age 5.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 16% of civilian workers have access to paid family leave benefits. This makes it more economically feasible for many women to leave the workforce if they can’t secure reasonably priced care, especially if they plan on having more than one child. The end result is women being forced out of the workforce.
It’s a nationwide problem that affects women of all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds because the cost of child care is proportionately high all over the country.
In a recent joint survey from The New York Times and YouGov, 59% of parents of children in preschool/daycare reported child care expenses are a significant financial strain. Because of its far-reaching effects, many politicians and non-profits are demanding child care costs be examined and addressed on a national level.
The issue has reached a critical point in enough families that it’s now a topic of national conversation and debate. Politicians and policy makers are now highlighting child care as a major issue for the country’s continued success.