It’s time to make childcare affordable againEarly Childhood
Let’s play a game. I’ll give you three job titles, and you tell me which job pays the same as a childcare worker:
- A) Dog walker
- B) Janitor
- C) Elementary School Teacher
You probably chose C because, like a childcare worker, teachers take care for children and offer them enrichment opportunities all day. And you probably assumed that dog walkers and janitor can’t earn as much as the employee in whom you entrust the care, learning and safety of your child all day.
Easy as child’s play, right? Not so fast.
Dog walkers make an average of $26,000 a year, janitors make $26,982, and elementary school teachers make $42,917. On the other hand, childcare workers make only $20,000 a year, less than half of a teacher’s salary and less than the people who keep our homes, buildings and facilities clean and walk our pets.
If you find that troubling, you’re not alone. In fact, there’s a few members of Congress who agree and they’ve introduced the Child Care Access to Resources for Early-learning Act (C.A.R.E Act) to make sure that employees earn a fair wage and are provided the educational and training opportunities that can make them even better at their jobs.
Childcare providers offer a lifeline to working families. Quality childcare allows families to maintain a steady job outside the home, thereby improving their economic stability – while offering their children a safe, nurturing environment in which to learn and play. Yet they make an average of $10.39 an hour, and are far less likely to receive benefits, like healthcare or retirement plans, that attract and retain good workers. In fact, childcare workers are often so poor that they can’t even afford childcare for their own children. In 32 states and D.C., a childcare worker would have to spend their entire paycheck from January to at least April to afford a year of childcare.
Despite low wages for childcare workers, childcare is expensive – like, really expensive. In fact, the cost of childcare rivals the annual price of college tuition at state colleges and universities and can consume nearly half of a single-families’ income. Yet too few of these dollars are being used to attract, support, and retain a qualified workforce.
The Child C.A.R.E. Act would set the Child Care and Development Block Grant provider payment rates higher to increase the wage for childcare workers and to attract, support, and retain high-quality providers. The legislation would also provide a pathway for childcare workers to obtain higher education so that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to offer quality early learning opportunities to young children at the time that their brain development is most critical.
Will you join First Focus Campaign for Children in calling on Congress to enact the Child C.A.R.E. Act to guarantee that working families and children have safe, affordable, and high quality child care and that childcare providers receive adequate pay for the important job of caring for and teaching our youngest children?
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