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Archive for the ‘Cost and affordability’ Category

Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

How bad are high child care costs?

Even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says families should only spend 7 percent of their income on child care, it turns out that working families with children younger than age 5 are spending on average nearly 10 percent of their income.

That’s one of the troubling findings in a new issue brief – “Working Families Are Spending Big Money on Child Care” — from the Center for American Progress.

Without affordable child care, it’s harder for parents to go to work and harder in turn for them to earn the middle-class salaries that can provide families with long-term stability. This is a particularly tough challenge in Massachusetts where the Coalition for Social Justice – which Strategies for Children is a member of — is campaigning for affordable child care.

“Absent large-scale policy action on this issue,” the brief says, “young adults have reported child care expenses as the top reason they are having fewer children than they would like. In fact, in 2018, the U.S. fertility rate fell to a record low for the third straight year, falling below the replacement rate needed to keep the population constant from one generation to the next.” (more…)

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Jessica Merrill, Titus DosRemedios, Kelly Savarese, Dawn DiStefano, Nicole Penney, Kim Davenport, Grace Cruz, Efrain Ponce Hamlet, Amy O’Leary, Clifford Kwong, Lisa Van Thiel. Photo courtesy of Kim Davenport.

Last week, there was a standing-room-only hearing at the Massachusetts State House where parents, teachers, and advocates called on elected officials to increase access to high-quality, affordable child care, expand preschool, increase educator salaries, and other priorities.

“Right now many parents struggle to access affordable childcare, and they often choose to stay home to avoid expensive daycare,” WWLP.com reports on the issues covered at the hearing, adding:

“Expanding full-day preschool would give parents the option of going back to work on a part-time or full-time basis.”

The multi-generational impact of having more preschool programs for children that would make it easier for parents to go work would be hugely beneficial for Massachusetts. This could be accomplished by a number of bills that were discussed at the hearing including: (more…)

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What happens when parents are spending $10,000 or more a year for child care?

What happens when early educators and child care workers don’t earn enough to cover their own families’ expenses?

There are no easy answers, but as we blogged last year, the video posted above shines a needed spotlight on these challenges.

Recently at a Boston Foundation event on the early childhood workforce, Marcy Whitebook included the video in her presentation, and noted that it has been one of the most widely shared resources that she and her colleagues at the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) have produced.

CSCCE produced the video along with the national nonprofit Child Care Aware of America.

For more information, research, and data about child care costs and workforce salaries, check out this Child Care Aware webpage as well as CSCCE’s webpage on compensation and its resources on the high cost of child care.

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Congresswoman Lori Trahan; Pat Nelson, Executive Director of the Concord Children’s Center; Amy O’Leary, Early Education for All Campaign Director at Strategies for Children. Photo: Eric Stein

 

“I was honored to speak briefly at the Kathy Reticker Forum’s screening of No Small MatterThe film addressed the question ‘Why, when the importance of quality early care is so widely accepted and known, do we continue to fail so many children?’

“It is an important question to ask. Our children are America’s most valuable resource, yet across our country, too many families don’t have access to high-quality, affordable early learning and care that will help them thrive without breaking the bank. Programs like Head Start and grants like Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) are investments that bring real and positive results to our communities. That’s why I fight hard in Congress to support and grown them. These programs have a proven track record of success in Massachusetts and around the country, and are exactly the type of investments our federal government should be making when it comes to the children and families that are most in need.

“I’m also proud to be working on a number of other pieces of legislation like the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, which dramatically expands access to quality, affordable child care for all families. Congress can and must make progress on this important issue. There’s work to be done.”

 

– U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA 3rd District)

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Retired Brigadier Generals Jack Hammond and Gary Pappas. Photo courtesy of Mission:Readiness.

 

Retired Brigadier Generals Jack Hammond and Gary Pappas came to Boston earlier this month to talk about the link between child care and the military – and about the findings in a new, related report, “Child Care and National Security: How greater access to high-quality child care in Massachusetts can help improve military readiness.”

The upshot: high-quality child care is a key ingredient in preparing children to become successful adults who could serve in the military. But right now, most of this state’s potential military candidates could not join the armed forces because of poor health, limited educational attainment, and histories of illegal activities.

“If a basic part of the population, 70 percent roughly [in Massachusetts], cannot pass a simple entrance exam,” Pappas says in an NECN interview, “you have a recruiting problem.” (more…)

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“This lack of affordable quality child care is a crisis for American families. In 35 states, families pay more for child care than for mortgages, and in no state does the average cost of infant or toddler care meet the federal definition of affordable. On a per-capita basis, we spend roughly six times less on education for infants and toddlers than we do on K-12. This shortchanges our children exactly when the potential benefit is greatest.

“We know from breakthroughs in neuroscience that children’s brains are growing explosively during the first three years of life — developing more than one million neural connections a second. A child’s early brain architecture shapes all future learning and behavior. This is also the period in our lives when we are most vulnerable to trauma.”

“If we care about equal opportunity in this country, we must provide more funding for infants and toddlers.”

“So where do we start?

Six months of paid parental leave is the first step… The second step is improving compensation for early-childhood educators so that they earn the same as schoolteachers…”

“How to End the Child-Care Crisis: A child’s first 1,000 days are a time to be seized,” by By Shael Polakow-Suransky, president of the Bank Street College of Education, The New York Times, May 24, 2019

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Presentation begins at the 10:40 time mark.

 

California has a brand new plan for early childhood education.

It has arrived in the nick of time, with sweeping changes that will benefit children and families, and with lessons for Massachusetts and other states.

“Few would argue that California’s child care system is in need of major reform,” public radio station KQED reports. “Today, a whopping 77% of children statewide lack access to a licensed child care program, and many of those who teach and care for the state’s youngest are making marginally above minimum wage.

“The system is currently ‘at a crisis level,’ according to Michael Olenick, head of the Los Angeles-based Child Care Resource Center. Yet he’s hopeful that things will improve. Olenick just finished participating in a state Assembly blue-ribbon commission, which released a report on Monday suggesting major improvements to the state’s early childhood education system.”

This report, from the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education, draws on two years of hearings, meetings, and focus groups. (more…)

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