Ms. Foundation for Women launches campaign for universal child care

NEW YORK, NY — The Ms. Foundation for Women launched a new public education campaign about child care, calling for universal child care to ensure that working families have access to quality care.

“Yesterday, some mothers got cards and flowers while many mothers had to choose between paying for child care and paying for food,” said Ms. Foundation Senior Program Officer for Economic Justice Aleyamma Mathew. “Mothers need more than cards and flowers, they need affordable, quality child care.”

The cost of full-time child care for an infant is higher than the cost of in-state college tuition in 31 states. Finding quality, affordable and flexible child care is difficult for middle class families, and it can be virtually impossible for low-income women. The lack of quality care puts children at risk of receiving substandard care. It also risks the employment of their mothers, as many cannot afford to keep working. Almost one-third of mothers are now stay-at-home parents, up from a 45-year low of 23 percent in 1999, the Pew Research Center recently found. For many of those parents, the choice isn’t based on parenting beliefs, but rather is rooted in the bleak realities of household economics.

Despite the high cost of care, child care providers — 97% of whom are women — often receive low pay. In fact, these workers, who are disproportionately women of color, are among the least likely to be guaranteed basic labor rights, such as a living wage, safe working conditions, sick leave and overtime pay.

“Right now, the child care system isn’t working well for anyone. Parents struggle to find affordable quality care. Children are not getting the start they need to be successful in school. And child care providers don’t have the resources or pay they need,” Mathew said. “The only way to make child care more affordable and accessible, while ensuring that child care workers have the resources and job protections they need to provide quality care, is to make a national commitment to ensuring that all children get the early education and quality care they need.”

In a video released today, the Ms. Foundation calls for universal child care. The new child care campaign includes an online drive to petition members of Congressto make child care accessible to all working families.

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For more than 40 years, the Ms. Foundation for Women has secured women’s rights and freedoms with a special commitment to building the power of low-income, immigrant and women of color. The foundation invests funds, time, expertise and training in trailblazing organizations nationwide.