The staggering cost of <early education and> care when you make only the minimum wage
Child-care costs would now devour at least 30 percent of a minimum-wage worker’s earnings in every state, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute has found.
To cover a year of full-time infant care in Hawaii – the state with the median minimum wage ($7.75) – a worker at the bottom of the pay scale would have to spend every paycheck from January until September.
Such workers in New York and Massachusetts would have to fork over more than 80 percent of their annual earnings, according to the findings, published Tuesday. In Washington, D.C., they’d need to throw in everything — plus extra: 102 percent of a minimum-wage salary is required to cover the average annual cost of infant care. (Find your state here.)
This reality leaves few options for families with sparse financial resources and inflexible work schedules, said Elise Gould, senior economist at EPI, who co-wrote the study. Even if a parent qualifies for child-care subsidies, waiting lists in some states can stretch long enough for her to lose a job or leave a child in a risky arrangement.
It’s All About Education: Child Care Should Be a Major Focus in 2016
“It’s only September 2015, and already our news channels are on high alert for the presidential election that is 13 months away. The candidates have no shortage of opinions on the economy, immigration, civil rights issues and education plans. Yet not one of them is talking about child care.
“I’m spending more on child care than I would on college tuition!” Although many parents say it jokingly, it’s actually often true. In 31 states and the District of Columbia, full-time child care costs more than tuition at a public college. In Rhode Island, for example, the average cost of child care is $12,262 per year, compared with an average cost of $10,992 for tuition and fees at a public college.
According to a report released by Child Care Aware of America, Rhode Island ranks 14th in a list of states with the least affordable child care for infants; 9th in least affordable care for a four-year old; and 25th in the cost of care for a school-aged child. Not surprisingly, New York is the least affordable state for all three categories of child care.
Why is this important? First, over 12 million children younger than age 5 in the United States attend some form of child care each week. Second, access to quality child care impacts more than parents: employee absenteeism due to child care issues costs businesses more than $3 billion each year. Parents whose children are enrolled in high-quality, reliable child care centers often have higher engagement at work.”
Marie St. Fleur: “Since the legislature’s Foundation Budget Review Commission report on financing education does not include recommendations for early education and care, moreover, the language of the ballot question pushing for a constitutional change to fund public education again excludes early education and care, it is time for early educators to join with parents across Massachusetts and demand greater investment in early education and care.”