WASHINGTON, DC — While attending the White House Summit on Working Families, Ms. Foundation for Women President and CEO Teresa C. Younger, called on policymakers, business leaders and advocates to make child care a top priority.
“We all have a stake in ensuring that women have the support they need to fully participate in the workplace, ” said Ms. Foundation President and CEO Teresa C. Younger. “Access to affordable, quality child care is essential to women’s equality at work, children’s wellbeing and the economic security of the nation.”
The Ms. Foundation is especially committed to ensuring that women who are low-wage workers are represented during policy discussions about working families. In addition to Younger, the Ms. Foundation delegation included Senior Program Officer, Economic Justice, Aleyamma Mathew, and grantees Luna Ranjit, Adhikaar, Anika Campbell, Center for Frontline Retail, Rachel Micah-Jones, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., Susan Kavchok, Childspace, Carol Burnett, MLICCI and James Haslam, Vermont Workers’ Center.
“Low pay, unpaid leave and unmanageable shifts make it next to impossible for low-wage women workers to access quality child care,” Younger said. “We have to lift up working conditions — especially for women — and we have to make quality child care affordable.”
This spring, the Ms. Foundation launched a campaign calling for universal child care, noting that the cost of full-time child care for an infant is higher than the cost of in-state college tuition in 31 states. 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.
“The child care system isn’t working for anyone. Whether your head is knocking up against the glass ceiling or you’re trapped in the basement of low-wage work, women are stuck trying to figure out how to get affordable, quality care when they need it,” Younger said. “When women have to choose between leaving their jobs or leaving their kids in substandard care, we’re in the middle of a child care crisis.”
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 nearly 100 trailblazing organizations nationwide.