Child care is a major issue for American parents, especially those who are low to middle-income. It is becoming extremely expensive for families around the nation to juggle taking care of their children and working. It is particularly troubling that child care workers are low-paid, while the cost of daycare is getting more expensive by the year.
There are some wonderful options available when you have the money. Those who can afford to pay premium rates have no issues finding great daycare. Some places may have waiting lists, but plenty of premium options are available. Finding good, reliable and safe childcare that is also affordable is a completely different proposition.
The average cost of childcare is becoming a major issue for parents around the country. In some of the most expensive states, it is almost impossible for parents to afford childcare when they are making close to the minimum wage.
Let us look at New York as an example. The annual cost of childcare in the state is roughly $15,000 for a single infant. If you combine the costs of daycare for an infant and a four-year-old, the amount goes to $27,000. Other parts of the country are similarly expensive, especially around major cities. However, even in the heart of the nation, costs for daycare are rising.
Trouble Finding Daycare
Many parents cannot even find a place for their child at an affordable daycare center. Mothers only get a specific amount of maternity leave from their jobs – some may get none at all. Even mothers who do get maternity leave only have a couple of months after their baby is born to find a solution.
It puts a tight deadline for parents to find the right solution for their child. Some go with in-home child care, while others look at daycare centers. Both options come with increasing costs, while it is also difficult to check out the reliability and safety of the different options. It often involves multiple interviews, traveling to different daycare centers and analyzing the costs associated with each option.
Asking Family or Staying Home
Many families end up in a situation where they have no good daycare prospects. They must resort to asking family members to help them out. Those who have family in the same city can usually get their parents or other relatives to watch their children on specific days. However, when the family is not nearby, it can even come down to the mother having to quit her job to take care of the child.
Should the Government Get Involved?
There are pros and cons to the idea of a government-run daycare program. Many would point to the costs associated with such an idea – north of $90 billion. However, there is an upside to the idea of providing low to middle-income families with a reliable and affordable place to send their kids.
Research shows that children develop much of their brain during the first few years of their life. When they are in a stable and caring environment, this development occurs a lot better. The result is children who do better in school, stay out of trouble and go on to have productive lives.
It may be a cost for the government to set up a daycare program, but it could become self-financing in the future. The program would result in a generation of children who are better educated, less likely to have issues with law enforcement and more likely to get better jobs – and pay more in taxes.