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Stories by Child Care Works on Medium

Stories by Child Care Works on Medium

By: Mia Coward, Public Policy Associate

The most recent data shows that millennials are having children later in life than the generation before them. According to a study by Goldman Sachs, the median age for millennials to get married has increased from 23 to 30!

As I get older, I am bombarded with the following question: “When are you going to have children, Mia?” It happens in every single family conversation! I usually shrug off the question and say that I’m just not ready. The truth? I am a struggling millennial, and between paying off my student loans, paying off my car, paying for insurance, and paying for the occasional meal out, I just can’t afford children. At least not right now.

Research shows that millennials cannot participate in the consumer economy to the same extent as previous generations due to high unemployment rates, burdensome student loans, and wage stagnation. We are the first generation in modern history to experience higher poverty rates and lower incomes than the two preceding generations. This alone is enough to make me want to save all of my money before deciding to have children. But this is impossible. The money I have left after paying my bills gets stuffed into my mattress — literally!

In case you haven’t noticed, most millennials (including me) are broke. Millennials have an average of about $20,000 dollars in student loan debt alone.

And, not to mention, when my child is born I will have to pay for diapers, baby wipes, baby food, baby clothes, baby furniture… see where I’m going? Oh, yeah, I also have to find money somewhere for child care — have you read our report about the cost of child care for millennials?!

In case you haven’t, here are some truly terrifying stats:

  • In 17 states and D.C., it takes at least 50 percent of a millennial’s income to pay for infant child care in a center.
  • There are only 7 states in which millennial parents are paying 30 percent or less of their income for center-based infant care.
  • For millennial parents of two children (one infant and one 4-year-old), household budgets are even bleaker — they need at least 45 percent of their income to pay for child care costs.

As a young professional in the workforce, I am able to pay my bills on my time, but if you take away 50 percent of my income, there would be nothing left! I cannot fathom the thought of paying thousands of dollars for child care. Child Care Aware® of America’s (CCAoA) “Millennial Generation: How the Changing Economic Environment Impacts the Newest Parents,” finds that child care is simply not affordable, and I definitely agree.

And how about this statistic from CCAoA’s report: In 28 states plus the District of Columbia, one year of tuition at a public university is more affordable for millennials than center-based infant care! I don’t know about you, but I spent more than $20,000 on my first year of college on tuition, so the thought of paying anywhere near this amount annually for child care is unimaginable. Even so, I have friends my age who have to budget their paycheck between child care and household expenses every month.

In addition to the barriers thrown down by the unaffordable cost of child care, millennial parents working non-traditional hours first have to find child care that will support their lifestyle before even thinking about the cost. Millennials working evening or weekend shifts, or who need child care while attending classes, really have their work cut out for them.

This is why I choose to wait to have children…at least until I see change in our economy and more support for working parents.

We must find ways to invest in our economy and protect millennials like me who eventually want to have children and be able to afford high-quality child care. I don’t want to choose between child care and groceries, and no parent should have to.

We need solutions like significant increases in federal investments in child care assistance for eligible children and increasing quality improvement efforts if we want to help children and families.

Bottom line: I’m not having children anytime soon, at least not until I can afford the debt I already have.

Read more about the “Millennial Generation: How the Changing Economic Environment Impacts the Newest Parents” report on Child Care Aware® of America’s website.

Author: Child Care Works
Posted: June 21, 2017, 9:25 pm

How to fight for early education and still maintain your sanity

By Chrisi West, Digital Advocacy Manager
Krista Scott, LIC SW, Senior Director of Child Care Health Policy

As advocates for children, we’re not afraid of a good fight. We’ve fought for programs supporting children and families for decades, yet somehow it feels like we’re getting hit from all sides recently.

Here are some tips to stay sane and still make a difference — because if you’re like us, you’re starting to lose your grip on, well, everything:

1. Don’t lose sight of your tribe. It’s hard, we know, when so many important issues are coming up, one after another. And, yes, these issues are all pressing and critical for the well-being of children and families. But you’re not in this alone. Hundreds, even thousands, of activists and advocates like you are all coming together to take action on behalf of children and early learning — from the racial equity angle, through the lens of poverty, or just via the issue of access and affordability of child care in general. Maybe you’re addressing the budget proposal to eliminate programs supporting afterschool and community child care programs for working parents, cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the potential millions of uninsured children that will result from repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. For example, if you’re interested in children, but want to focus on child health and nutrition issues in the new budget, check out the Food Research and Action Center. They do amazing research in this area! Whoever your tribe is, just know that your action is just one in tens or even hundreds of thousands of actions. You’re part of a wide tribe of active child advocates.

2. Narrow your focus. No one has more than 24 hours in a day. And if someone says she does, she’s lying. Trust us. So, choose the causes you’re most passionate about, or have a personal connection to, and fight for them with all of your heart. If you can’t give money, give time. If you can’t give time, give your talent. There are plenty of ways to support children and early childhood education. Even if it’s 15 minutes at 10 pm after the kids are asleep and your work emails are all answered. Do your best and give what you can. You can put more energy into one or two causes, rather than spread yourself thin trying to volunteer for every cause! Whatever your focus, learn all you can and then take steps to get involved. Parent and early education advocates are always needed to share their stories with media, lawmakers, or online. Your voice puts a face to our statistics, you remind lawmakers that there are real people behind these numbers. [And if early education and child care is your thing, check out our website at, or the National Association for the Education of Young Children, for background on the cuts being made to child care and early education!]

3. Make sure you take time for yourself. Seriously. Don’t go on Facebook, don’t check Instagram, and for the love of all things holy, do NOT check Twitter. Do something that doesn’t involve the news we’re bombarded with on a daily basis, 24-hours a day. Go for a walk. Play with some children in your family or neighborhood. And if you really have the urge to punch something, maybe take up cardio kickboxing. The time you spend solely on yourself isn’t time wasted, when you should be advocating or learning more about your issues. It’s time that adds to your long-term sustainability in the early education movement, and let’s face it, also your sanity. No one will judge you for taking a time-out every once in a while. And if they do, show them this blog from Psychology Today.

Because we know from our recent research that busy people have three key barriers to self-care — access, time, and money. Access to gyms or parks, time away from work and family to focus on yourself, and money for healthier foods, gym memberships, and classes. Sometimes, self-care means being creative — sneaking into your bedroom with your tablet and doing a quick workout or meditation for 10 minutes can make a difference. And you might feel like you don’t have enough energy after a long day, but you can do anything for 10 minutes! Remind yourself of that and take that time out — you’ll thank yourself later.

Remember: You. Are. Not. Alone. Find those people fighting for the same issues you’re fighting for and join them!

And breathe. You know the saying, “Moving at the pace of Congress”? Well, there’s a reason why that’s a thing. Because Congress, and government in general, usually move pretty slowly. Here at Child Care Works, we’re in this for the long haul, and we hope you are, too! So don’t burn out on us. Our children — and our future — need you!

Get involved in the movement for affordable, accessible, high-quality child care.

Author: Child Care Works
Posted: June 13, 2017, 4:51 pm

By: Michelle McCready, M.P.P
Chief of Policy, Child Care Aware of America

Three weeks after her son was born, Daniela Salinas enrolled in college. She knew that the only way to provide a better life for her new family was to continue her education.

Nearly 4.8 million students are parents, and 2 million of them are single mothers. According to a 2016 study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 4.8 million college students were parents of dependent children in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available — that’s about 26 percent of all college undergraduates. The vast majority of these students, 71 percent, are women. Therefore, while the number of enrolled students who have children has grown and is getting larger, the availability of child care on campuses hasn’t followed suit. In fact, child care programs available at public colleges has decreased over the past decade or so.

Balancing school, work and being a single mom was nearly impossible and Daniela faced incredible demands on her time and resources. More than half of single parents devote more than 30 hours a week to dependent care as well as experience increased financial difficulty. But Daniela kept her son on never-ending wait lists, applied for countless scholarships to alleviate the financial burden of care and continued to excel academically.

At one point, Daniela’s colleague Bianca Ramirez was living in a shelter, taking care of her son, working part-time, going to school full-time and completing her 510-hour internship all at the same time. “It was very difficult juggling everything I was going through and trying to survive my last semester. If it was not for the child care program that was assisting me during this time period, I would not have graduated with my bachelor’s degree in social work that semester,” she said.

For millions of people, the federal program Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) helps alleviate the financial and logistical stress of finding adequate and safe child care by putting it on campuses where non-traditional students can access them. Over 25 percent of undergraduate students and two-thirds of nondependent women students have children. Better access to affordable child care could have helped many parents who leave school without earning a credential from taking a break or dropping out completely. But, instead of expanding this critical program the federal government has proposed additional cuts, placing the burden back on parents who are students to navigate the obstacle course of finding child care.

“What has been the biggest struggle through this process particularly is the lack of child care availability for evening classes,” said Daniela when she recounted the struggles she faced early-on. By finding child care that was safe, affordable and could meet the demands of her student schedule, Daniela was able to finish her undergraduate degree and is now pursuing her graduate degree, but it wasn’t easy.

Bianca at Day on the Hill 2017

Bianca said, “When I saw students bringing their children to class with them because they had no other child care option, I knew I had to do something — not just for me, but for all parents struggling to make a better life for themselves and their children. I found out the main campus offered child care for students and I started advocating for the same services on our branch campus…”

Together, Bianca and Daniela fought to have access to a child care facility on the campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio that offered evening hours to accommodate the schedules of non-traditional students — and they won. Daniela doesn’t want other student parents to have to jump through the same hoops in order to achieve their dreams. “We will continue to fight for adequate, safe and low-cost child care for parents who are just trying to better their lives. One thing I know for sure…It should not be so hard to get assistance for child care for parents who are trying to get an education.”

These proud mothers are standing up and fighting for the child care options they need in order to continue building their lives. But thousands are still navigating these logistics and are finding it just as difficult. Today, only one-third of student parents earn a degree or certificate within six years of enrollment. Instead of making it harder for parents to go back to school or continue their education, we should make it as easy as possible. Defunding child care programs on campus would ensure that fewer student parents received degrees and that quality child care access would continue to decrease.

CCAMPIS and other programs that allow low-income students to access child care should be seen as valuable resources that help sustain higher education for every community instead of being threatened with extinction. The president’s budget today illustrates exactly where child care and families needs rank in our nation’s priorities, and unfortunately, it leaves students like Bianca and Daniela in the lurch.

Push back today! Tell Congress you support funding for programs like campus child care for families like Bianca and Daniela’s!

Author: Child Care Works
Posted: May 24, 2017, 6:16 pm

For developing the nation’s most precious resource

We have a hidden fuel in our society that keeps our country’s economic engines running, and many people don’t even realize it — an industry that helps people find and keep employment, attain an education, and keep businesses thriving and social costs down.

What if I told you this industry is one of the lowest paid, least appreciated, often overlooked, and least supported of all the industries?

The child care and early education workforce is that hidden fuel. And they are undervalued for the work they do each day.

It’s a case of economics…

Without them, businesses would crumble, wages for many would be lost, and we would diminish our competitive economic edge. But early childhood educators are underpaid, overworked, and even if they deeply love what they do they’re often not supported enough to stay in the workforce.

And here’s why — even with a college degree the average income in the early education workforce is $10.33 an hour. That’s only around $21,000 a year! Most get paid minimum wage and live below the poverty level — they can’t even afford child care for their own families.

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) recently published a report that found that child care teachers earn less than adults who take care of animals and only slightly more than fast food cooks. Yet each day they help other peoples’ children build brain connections during the earliest and most critical years of human development, setting a foundation for lifelong success in their role as the primary caregivers for many families.

It’s a case of logistics…

As a mother, an advocate, and an employee, I call my children’s child care providers my “co-parents.” They care for my two children more than 40 hours a week so that my husband and I can work and support our family in the expensive Northern Virginia area. Sometimes I have to stay late at work and rush to pick up my children by 6 p.m.

They still manage to greet me with a smile, although I’m the hold up between them and their first break of the day. Occasionally I forget diapers for my daughter and somehow they graciously find some to use — probably ones they may have bought with their own money.

It’s a case of growth and development…

The relationship we have with them is not only important to us, it is a relationship that’s important to my children as well. They ask me how things are going when either my husband or I are out of town and the other is solo-parenting for a few days. They pay attention to our children’s eating, sleeping, and behavioral and emotional well-being and let us know if something seems amiss.

Caregiving in my child care program involves dedicating limitless amounts of kindness, patience, and energy not only to my two children but to many other young children in their care — all under five years. They listened to my son and supported him when he was having a hard time adjusting to a new sibling, and helped him grow into his role of “big brother.” They consistently work long past the regular instructing hours of teachers. There’s not a lot of downtime or a prep period, it’s just constant loving, coaching, and teaching.

It’s a case of partnership…

They are critical partners to my husband and I in loving, nurturing and rearing our children. Above all, they provide priceless piece of mind to families like ours. It’s hard to leave a newborn, an infant, or toddler with someone else, knowing the amount of care that is required. So on Friday, May 12, and every day before you drop off your child, make sure to thank your child care providers for doing what they do every single day.

And to those without children in child care, thank them for being a critical piece of our nation’s infrastructure. U.S. businesses would lose $4.4 million annually without quality, reliable child care. That’s a lot of missed work and it takes a toll on the economy!

Here’s how we can do more to support our early childhood educators — let policymakers know these caregivers are critical both for families and for the nation. Send a letter to Congress telling them to invest in the child care workforce.

Author: Child Care Works
Posted: May 11, 2017, 7:16 pm

Last week, the House of Representatives took major steps in repealing and replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 (also known as “Obamacare”).

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) of 2010, which was approved by both the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees, could have a damaging effect on low-income and working class families, especially children, if it became law. In particular, the bill would fundamentally change Medicaid in two ways:

  • It would cap Medicaid starting in 2020 — if states were to exceed the cap, then they would likely lose Medicaid funding in the following fiscal year. In addition, the bill would allow Congress to draw funding from Medicaid to offset costs associated with other possible tax/ infrastructure bills;
  • Medicaid expansion would end — perhaps one of the greatest benefits to millions of children and families under the ACA was the expansion of Medicaid, which 32 states are currently benefiting from (some are using expansion alternatives) and enhanced and expanded the federal matching percentage (FMAP). The House bill would effectively defund the expansion after December 31, 2019, and after that date, states could only accept new Medicaid enrollees based on the pre-expansion FMAP.

In addition, the House bill would repeal the individual mandate for both individuals and employers, ends subsidies for out of pockets expenses, and would offer tax credits that were based on age, rather than income.

The result of this bill, if passed, would likely cause millions to lose their insurance and limit access for low-income and working class children and families. In fact, according to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 24 million people would lose access to health insurance by 2026, with the first 14 million being denied in 2018. In addition, the CBO claims that the House health care bill would reduce Medicaid spending by $880 billion over the next 10 years.

With regards to deductibles, the CBO projects that they will rise significantly for low-income families.

On March 15, the House Budget Committee will combine both measures and include its repeal and replace measures, and is expected to approve the legislation which would then head to the House floor. While AHCA has a strong chance of passage in the House, resistance is building in the Senate, including enough Republicans to prevent passage. That said, the House is expected to vote on this legislation later this month. The next step would likely include House and Senate leaders trying to work out a compromise. However, any deal would likely result in many children and families losing health care coverage.

Child Care Aware® of America believes that quality child care settings are ones that are provided in healthy environments and that develop age-appropriate healthy habits. Access to health insurance for children has long-term positive outcomes, such as reductions in infant mortality, illness and deaths, improved overall childhood health, and reduced disability. Access to health care also improves academic and social emotional success and well-being. We encourage policies that promote further access to affordable quality health care for children and their families.

Visit our policy agenda to learn more!

Author: Child Care Works
Posted: March 14, 2017, 9:04 pm

By: Michelle McCready, Chief of Policy

When I heard you utter the words “affordable, quality child care for all families” at the Republican convention last summer, I literally stood up and cheered in the middle of my living room. It’s one of the many, and arguably one of the most important, issues facing working families. These are the families that I care deeply about and have been fighting for over the last decade.

Quality child care is high-quality early childhood education and one of the best investments we can make as a society. Research shows that for every dollar spent on early childhood education the economy will see upwards of $13 in return. Child care has always been a nonpartisan issue, and has seen its fair share of changes — from World War II when universal child care was available to the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014.

Unfortunately, what we have not seen is many substantive changes for working families in need of child care. We know that more than 11 million children under age 5 are in child care right now. That means that for working families, child care is required. And yet child care is unaffordable and completely out of reach for families in 49 out of 50 states!

The Trump child care plan bases the value of a household’s deduction on that household’s tax bracket. This means that individuals with an income of $250,000 will receive a higher deduction than family’s making $50,000 a year. The table below best illustrates this.

Table Created by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)

Let me use my own family as an example: My partner Aaron and I have two children, both in child care. Luckily, we both have good jobs with benefits. Even so, we have only recently been able to tuck away a few dollars towards savings! We would receive a tax rate of 25%, while families making far less would only have a tax rate of 12%. This means that families struggling far more than mine will get far less assistance than we will. The bottom line is ALL families, particularly those that are hurting the most, deserve to get the help they need.

So Don’t Start with a Family Like Mine…

Start with families that are working but still living in poverty, or are just trying to make it from one paycheck to the next. These are the families with lower incomes who need high-quality child care as a means to better their child’s long-term outcomes. They are struggling with other household expenses and can’t afford to add child care to the mix. A family of three in Massachusetts living at the poverty level would have to pay nearly 85% of their income for full-time center-based care for just one infant!

Start, too, with single parents. In every state, the average cost of center-based infant care exceeds 24% of a single parents’ median income. The financial math works against them.

Start with millennial parents. They are saddled with mountains of educational debt and are putting off buying homes and having families. Estimates reveal about 1 out of 4 postsecondary students are parents — and many of those students are millennials trying to improve their circumstances.

Start with families who need child care coverage during nontraditional hours. They are working when my family is sleeping or relaxing. They work the night shift, or on weekends, or they have shifts that change by the week, and they have little to no quality options to support their work schedules.

Start with the parents of children with special needs who can’t find access to critical services at an affordable cost, if they can find them in their area at all.

Start with parents from rural areas. They are experiencing child care deserts (areas where the supply of quality child care doesn’t meet the demand). These parents cobble together temporary or unstable arrangements just to get to work or school.

And of critical importance, please start by investing in the child care workforce across the country. It’s been researched that half of the people that provide care for our nation’s children are living in poverty. They are woefully undercompensated and under supported, even though they are critical to the quality early learning experiences children need to be ready for school and life.

Ivanka, I appreciate and respect the attention you are bringing to this critical issue, but don’t make this a winning issue for only some us — all of us need your support.

Investment in early childhood education is a win for children.

Investment in early childhood education is a win for families.

Investment in early childhood education is a major win for the economy.

Join us in the fight for quality, affordable child care at

Author: Child Care Works
Posted: March 6, 2017, 2:10 pm

Now’s our chance — President Trump spoke about child care and maternity leave in his agenda when he was a candidate for President, and now that he’s in office we want to make sure he keeps that promise.

While we don’t yet know the details of any of the proposals being considered by Congress or the Trump Administration, we do know that if we want to make any progress on this front we need to act fast!

Quality, affordable child care for families shouldn’t just be a pipe dream or a luxury only a few can afford. Yet middle class families are being priced out of the child care market every single day and forced to put their children into tentative or unsafe child care situations in order to make due. In fact, the cost of child care is the single highest household expense for most families in the U.S., and the cost of child care for just one infant is more than a year of in-state college tuition.

If you believe that all families in the United States deserve high-quality, affordable child care, add your name and join the fight.

The first 100 days of the Trump Administration are going to move fast, and the list of important policy items will be long. Let’s make sure early childhood education remains a top priority for the new White House. And for Congress.

Join the fight for the First 100 Days! We need you to stand up for children and families.

Let us know YOU’RE IN!

Author: Child Care Works
Posted: January 25, 2017, 4:14 pm

Not everything is a partisan issue — even in this election cycle. Like child care, for example.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree that something needs to be done about the cost of, and access to, child care. And both candidates have offered plans to help families with the cost of care, and even offer various levels of family or maternity leave to new or adoptive parents.

Supporting families, working parents, and children is downright patriotic! (Cue National Anthem.) And yet not a single question in any of the Presidential debates was focused on child care or early childhood education.

Children and families matter. Don’t believe us? Just ask Uncle Sam.

The join the movement for high-quality, affordable child care for all families at

Author: Child Care Works
Posted: November 1, 2016, 6:39 pm

Child Care Takes Center Stage in this Election — As it Should

In a highly partisan environment, we’re glad to see candidates from both parties prioritizing child care. More than 80% of voters across parties believe child care should be a priority. We are organizing to make sure these plans are a priority beyond the campaign. We’re working to make sure these policies are implemented in the First 100 Days of the next administration, no matter the outcome of the election. If you are ready to hold the candidates accountable, join the movement.

Eleven million children younger than age five are in some form of child care in the United States. Child care is both a workforce support to parents and an early learning program that sets children up for a successful life. Investments in high-quality early education generate returns of more than $8 in societal benefits for every $1 spent.

Joseph Sohm /

Read a quick, one-page breakdown on child care proposals from both Official Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (pdf).

The cost of child care has become a major issue for the 2016 elections, and both of these plans have received considerable attention. Join us in making sure talk becomes action. Child Care is essential in supporting the backbone of our nation’s success.

Join the Child Care Works movement and sign the pledge!

Author: Child Care Works
Posted: October 19, 2016, 2:13 pm