Forget About Health Care - What About Day Care?
Many Americans are concerned about the rising cost of health care. But what about the rising cost of childcare? What about poor access to affordable, reliable care?
I remember when our girls were little, I worked full-time (like many fathers) and my wife worked part-time. When we had our first child, we had a local teenager (18 years old) take care of Maya when Diane worked. It worked out okay for a while, but then our childcare provider started having major boyfriend problems. That was our first of many childcare crises.
Then we tried family daycare. Maya stayed with a local mom. The only problem—her daughter wasn’t too happy with the arrangement. We found a young adult who came to our house once again. But she had lots of health problems. Finally, we ended up putting both kids in a daycare center that took care of babies too that was near our office. At least, if someone got sick, it was their problem to find staff.
That was back in the 1980’s. It cost us close to $8,000 a year! We lived in Massachusetts, which now costs $15,000 yearly to take care of one infant full time!
A recent article in the New York Times (August 17, 2013) titled “Crushed by the cost of childcare” says it all. Today, there are more women than ever before in the work force since World War II. In 2012, over 47% of the workforce was comprised of women. Increasingly, women are working full-time. Today, 73% of working women are full time.
According to the Department of Labor, 60% of families with children have two working parents. In our increasingly expensive society, it is very hard for families to afford being stay-at-home moms or dads. And there are over 8 million single moms who work. All of these families need some kind of childcare. The lucky ones have parents that are able and available to help out. But most working parents have to rely on some form of paid help.
So how much can day care cost? A recent report by a national child care advocacy organization (http://www.naccrra.org) reported that full time care in day care center in Washington State cost over $10,000 for an infant and close to $8000 for a pre-school aged child! Family day care was about $7000 for a pre-school aged child, not a heck of lot less! And this is only for one child!!!
Working parents are spending most of their disposable incomes for the privilege of working! It’s no wonder that many professional moms consider staying home with their children, even at the expense of their careers. But for many, despite the high cost of childcare, staying at home is a luxury they can’t afford. It’s a double bind for families that is stressful.
I see many families where both parents work different shifts so that they can care for their children at a lower cost. But this has a high cost too. Both parents feel like single parents much of the time and time together is greatly diminished. It’s less expensive, but it’s hard on everyone.
Paying for childcare is one challenge for families. But sometimes finding daycare is even harder. Parents have to get on waiting lists and can be on them for years! Interviewing potential providers is fraught with anxiety. Horror stories abound of irresponsible childcare providers or worse. There is a great need for affordable, accessible, high quality childcare options for working parents. Employers, government, and communities need to make this a priority.
Lets here from you! How much are you spending on childcare? Have you come up some less expensive, high quality options?