Health and Safety

One Way to Fix Our Country’s Child Care Crisis: Invest in Family Child Care Providers

June 25, 2016
By Doug Moore

Sacramento, California –  Gloria Carter has run a home-based day care in Sacramento County for more than 20 years.

She provides child care and educational opportunities for the 12 kids in her care with the help of one assistant. And she’s seen first-hand the child care crisis both California and the nation are experiencing. “It’s terrible,” said Carter. “Many of the parents of the kids in my care struggle to pay for child care while trying to make ends meet, and when I lose kids in my day care, my family struggles too.”

Far too many working families can’t afford care, and family child care providers earn wages so low that they can’t afford to keep their home-based day cares open. These problems add up to decreased access to quality, affordable child care and early learning opportunities for our children. But there is a solution: Make an investment in family child care providers to increase families’ access to child care.

“A mom of one of my kids couldn’t afford child care any longer, so she took her daughter out of my day care,” Carter recalled. “She reduced her hours at work, which meant reducing her income, so that she only worked when her daughter was in school.”

Families, especially low-income parents, rely on family child care providers to care for and teach their children while they work. And when parents can’t work because they can’t afford care for their children, they struggle to provide for their families. All too often, families are forced to make tough decisions between paying for care and going to work.

In 2014, the cost of child care for a preschooler in California was approximately $9,100 in a child care center, and $7,850 in a home-based day care. And this year, an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute found that it may be cheaper for a California family to send their child to college than to pay for child care for an infant. In fact, California has the 11th highest child care costs in the country. Families are struggling to provide for other basic needs like rent and food, because the cost of child care is, on average, a third of their income.

With numbers like these, it’s clear we need to invest in child care now more than ever.

Quality investment in child care, including raising the wages for family child care providers, will help ease the financial worries of parents throughout. And right now, the best way to do this is to stabilize the child care system.

UDW supports an increase in Californian subsidy rates, which will give family child care providers like Carter a much needed and deserved increase in their pay – making it easier for them to afford their work-related expenses and keep their day cares open for business.

Investing in family child care providers and increasing access to care is a wise investment to make throughout the country and especially in California.

Doug Moore is the Executive Director of UDW/AFSCME Local 3930, as well as an International Vice President of UDW’s parent union AFSCME.

June 24, 2016

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