New report shines light on child care crisis faced by Los Angeles garment workers

NEW YORK, NY – “‘Hanging by a Thread’ is a groundbreaking report that examines the issue of child care through the lens of the lived experiences of garment workers, as they struggle to overcome workplace abuses, such as wage theft and long hours while trying to care for their children, said Ms. Foundation for Women President and CEO Teresa C. Younger.

Ms. Foundation grantee the Garment Worker Center, in collaboration with the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education (UCLA Labor Center), and Research Action Design (RAD), researched the obstacles that Los Angeles garment workers face when trying to access quality, affordable child care. Garment Worker Center members and undergraduate students conducted the surveys.

“We get an accurate assessment because women workers were not only surveyed, they were the researchers too,” said Younger. “The participatory research model ensures that the results are comprehensive, inclusive and accurate.”

Surveyed workers said that one-third of their weekly income was spent on child care, as compared to less than seven percent for families with monthly income of $4500 or higher. The researchers report “workers stated they were often unable to pay their child care providers and instead compensated them for their services with food, by paying for utility bills or through other exchanges.” The survey also finds that language, literacy and cultural barriers also make it hard for garment workers to access quality, affordable child care.

Only one percent of garment workers access Head Start programs and six percent have access to child care centers. As a result, most workers have to cobble together a network of informal care, relying on family members and neighbors. Without reliable care options, workers often miss shifts because they have to stay home with children. Children placed in informal care miss out on the enrichment and education provided in early education settings.

The report highlights that – despite the rising demand for and cost of child care – federal block grants for child care subsidies have been reduced, creating long waiting lists for subsidized care. In California alone, more than 300,000 parents are on the waiting list.

“This is a national crisis,” Younger said. “We must invest in our future by implementing universal child care at the federal level. That is the only way to ensure that no child is ever left behind.”

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For over 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.