State of the Union Emphasizes Child Care and Paid Sick Leave

At last night’s State of the Union address, it was promising to hear President Obama highlight child care, working families, and education as countrywide concerns. He stated, “It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.” The motions he urged Congress to approve include increasing child care tax credits to $3,000 per child, per year and implementing paid sick days. This is extremely important for parents who have to juggle caring for their children and working at a job.

President Obama noted that, “Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own.” We are encouraged that the president is putting these issues at the forefront and hope that Congress acknowledges what a significant impact these policies could have for low-income families.

Rainy Day Fund

From Executive Director Rich Winefield:

Last month California voters passed Proposition 2, the Rainy Day Fund, by a wide margin. Governor Brown’s initiative represents sound fiscal policy, safeguarding the financial future of our state and improving our credit rating. I voted for Prop 2, but…

Many Californians still suffer from budget cuts made during the recession. Every day at BANANAS we see single mothers in poverty who can’t support their families because they can’t afford child care. Statewide, well over 200,000 poor children below the age of five have lost their child care due to budget cuts, representing many thousands of parents who thus cannot work or who are forced into part-time or split-shift employment. These families face a bleak future. For them, today is that rainy day.

Child care support would not only be good for poor families, it would boost economic development in our state by enabling thousands of people to go to work. Let’s save for an uncertain future, but let’s also provide our fellow Californians with some shelter from the rain they are experiencing today.

piggy

Photo by Philip Brewer

 

Child Care Costs and American Families

Our nation continues to face an uphill battle to ensure that all families have access to affordable child care. Today Child Care Aware released its 2014 report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, a text that reveals the disparity between the cost of child care and the median income of American families.

A few key findings in the report include:

  • Child care fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) in a child care center exceed annual median rent payments in every state.
  • Families spend twice as much on child care costs than they do on food.
  • Center-based child care costs for an infant are higher than in-state tuition at universities in 30 states and Washington, DC.

When families are unable to pay for the child care they need, the result is often employee absences and lost wages, which in turn can spiral into unemployment and poverty. The Child Care Aware report, in fact, states that businesses have lost $3 billion to employee absences due to lack of child care options. At BANANAS, we work with families every day who struggle to cover the cost of child care and we are striving to find solutions at the local, state, and federal levels. As a community dedicated to families and child care professionals, we hope to see child care kept at the forefront of legislation so that over time everyone will have access to affordable child care.

For more information about the Parents and the High Cost of Child Care report, click here.