Early childhood education helps to develop a future workforce, ensure long-term economic competitiveness, and prepare future leaders for our country. Universal high-quality pre-K and child care will benefit families across the country that struggle with high-cost child care, miss work to care for their children, or send their children to low-quality child care centres. (Preschool Malaysia)
In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama promised universal, high-quality pre-K. He made this a key priority for his administration. Early childhood education benefits children from all socioeconomic backgrounds by improving long-term outcomes. Investing in these programmes helps develop a future workforce, economic competitiveness, and future leaders.
Why will extending pre-kindergarten availability benefit both children and parents?
Only 6 out of ten kindergarten programmes in the United States accept full-day students. Increased funding for Head Start and child care subsidies, when combined, can encourage parents to work longer hours to better meet their families’ schedules.
Enabling more women to work by expanding child care availability can help close the gender wage gap and minimise the likelihood of a mother receiving government aid.
Lower child care expenses and improved availability to child care can lead to fewer women leaving the workforce and a higher rate of women entering it, allowing moms to work when they choose or need to.
Aside from the long-term benefits that high-quality Preschool Malaysia and child care have on children and the economy, these programmes also assist working parents, particularly working mothers. Due to the high cost of private child care and the lack of high-quality, easily accessible public options, parents must often choose between low-quality care or forgoing critical pay to remain home and care for a child.
Obama proposes spending $1.4 billion in 2014 to expand public child care, $15 billion to expand state home-visiting programmes, and $75 billion to improve access to high-quality preschool. This aid will let millions of parents, especially women, work and care for their children without compromising their health or jobs.
What options are available to working parents?
Currently, most families have three options for child care. To begin with, parents can stay at home and care for their children. However, as most families now rely on two breadwinners to keep afloat, this is becoming increasingly challenging. Furthermore, moms are more likely than fathers to take time off work to care for a kid, which might compound the wage discrepancy between mothers and fathers over time. Second, parents can pay for their children’s care themselves. However, this strategy is prohibitively expensive for families, accounting for 35.9% of a low-income family’s monthly budget. Families can also use federal or state-funded child care, but access to a high-quality institution is limited. Three out of four U.S. kids aren’t in a federal or state-funded pre-k programme.
Understanding the disadvantages, risks, and flaws of each of these options—particularly how these limited options harm families and working mothers—underscores the need for expanded investment in high-quality pre-K and child care. Below, we go over each choice in depth.
Option one: Remain at home.
Fifty years ago, advising one parent to remain home and supply child care made cultural and economic sense. Families could survive on one breadwinner’s salary, and women had traditionally stayed at home. However, American families have changed dramatically in the last 40 years as a result of both social and economic shifts. Leaving the employment today, even if just temporarily, to provide care involves substantial hazards.
Regardless of their children’s age, the majority of parents currently work. 70% of moms work, and 64.8% of moms with children under 6 work. This is because many families rely on two salaries in today’s market. Only married-couple homes with both parents working have seen income growth in the last 30 years.
Given that the expense of child care can be nearly as much as one parent’s whole pay, a worker’s decision to leave the workforce or work part-time so that his or her family is not responsible for those costs may appear to be a financially sound one. While other women prefer to stay at home for other reasons, short-term financial concerns are frequently a factor. However, this decision has ramifications.
Women will sacrifice their careers for their children
Women are more likely than men to reduce their working hours or quit altogether to care for their children. Unfortunately, this puts them at a long-term economic disadvantage. Women’s careers and lifetime earnings can suffer long-term disadvantages if they leave the profession, even for a short period of time.
Women spend more time off to care for their children, which accounts for 10.5% of the salary gap. Women are more likely to live in poverty than males since they work less and pay into Social Security less.
Lack of child care affects women’s and men’s work-family balance. Increased government spending in child care and preschool programmes could assist moms make decisions with long-term financial ramifications. It would make high-quality care more affordable for American families while also encouraging women to work.
Option 2: Pay for it yourself.
A second, but equally problematic, option for securing child care is to use a portion of a family’s total income. The expense of care has risen dramatically in recent years, putting a disproportionate strain on families’ budgets. Paying for high-quality private child care is an economic impossibility for millions of families across the United States.
In nearly half of all states, child care prices exceed the average rent payment, leaving many young families struggling. A working mother with a child under 5 spent 10% of her family’s income on child care in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available. This may not seem like much, but it accounts for 22.5% of married moms’ wages and 26.1% of never-married moms’ incomes.
For younger mothers, the costs of child care are even higher. In the US, the average age a mother gives birth is 25.7, hence half of all new mothers are under 26. Younger mothers have lower salaries since they are less employed and more likely to be in education. Moms under 25 with a tiny child who pay for child care generally spend one-third of their salary on care.
For moms who live below the poverty line, the situation is significantly worse. Because these women are more likely to be single moms and working is required for some government programmes, they need job support. With child care expenses so high, moms who can least afford it pay a disproportionate burden.
While paying for child care out of pocket may be simple and reasonable for wealthier families, many Americans, particularly young single mothers, do not have this option.
Option 3: Make use of government-funded and subsidised programmes.
Utilizing state and federally supported or subsidised child care programmes is a final option for getting child care. Unfortunately, while it may appear that this is a reasonable choice for families who do not want to lose a co-income breadwinner’s or who cannot afford private care, the United States still has a long way to go in this area.
Only approximately 22% of low-income children currently get federally subsidised child care, and while preschool attendance has increased in recent years across the country, the lowest-income children are the least likely to attend. Only 4% of 3-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded pre-K programmes, compared to 28% of 4-year-olds. Forty percent of children are not enrolled in any kind of pre-kindergarten programme. Clearly, the available publicly sponsored services are deficient, insufficient, or both.
Some low-income families and women benefit from publicly sponsored programmes, but access is often limited and quality is frequently inadequate. Unless these programmes are expanded and strengthened, they will continue to be a non-viable alternative for many working parents.
Mothers are hampered by a lack of inexpensive childcare.
Higher child care expenditures have a negative influence on mothers’ employment, according to a large body of empirical research. When child care costs are high, mothers are more likely to abandon their careers and less likely to start new ones. It is particularly challenging for parents to maintain employment when they do not have consistent access to high-quality child care. According to a research conducted by Jeffrey D. Lyons in North Carolina, nearly one out of every four families on a waitlist for child care assistance lost or had to quit their jobs while waiting for an opening.
More than a third of New York City families waiting for child care aid lost their jobs or couldn’t work, and one in five missed or was late for work due to child care concerns. A quarter of Minnesota families waiting for child care subsidies relied on public assistance.
Since jobs are much scarcer now and family finances are strained even farther, there is reason to believe that the current situation is worse than what these stats reflect.
Child care subsidies increase women’s labour force participation, help them acquire stable jobs, and boost their income, according to evidence from other nations. While U.S. measures are minimal by worldwide standards, child care aid assists working mothers. Child care support families are more likely to work and have longer employment spans. Single moms who receive child care help are 40% more likely to work for two years.
The advantages of high-quality pre-kindergarten and child care are immeasurable. It closes the achievement gap between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds and prepares them for kindergarten, primary school, and beyond. Decades of research show that investing in children early pays dividends in social, educational, and economic benefits throughout their lives. Regardless of their home situation, children deserve cheap, high-quality education that prepares them for school.
Access to affordable, high-quality child care is crucial for parents to balance work and family commitments, a goal every parent should be able to attain.
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