New York, NY – Today, the Ms. Foundation for Women released “ Raising Our Nation: Forging a More Robust and Equitable Childcare System in America,” an in-depth report that examines the history and impact of the gender and racial inequalities underlying the American childcare system. Written by Dr. Sanjay Pinto, the report also lays out a framework for progress, calling for a holistic approach to the related issues of childcare access, childcare quality, and job quality as well as increased investment from both the public sector and employers.
American families are paying millions of dollars a year for childcare. Nationally, the average cost of center-based childcare was nearly $11,666 per year as of 2013, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. Yet only one in six children eligible for a child care subsidy receives one.
High costs and inadequate public and employer supports have made finding quality, affordable childcare difficult for all families but particularly challenging for low-income women, women of color, and immigrant women. Today, forty percent of women are the primary income earners within their households. At the same time, women are concentrated in low-wage fields, including the childcare workforce, perpetuating a vicious cycle of inadequate childcare access and poor job quality.
“In order to transform our country’s complex childcare landscape, we need new frameworks that center the voices of women and their communities,” said Ms. Foundation Director of Women’s Economic Justice Aleyamma Mathew. “We need to improve our understanding of how gender and racial inequalities are undermining the economic security of women and their families and work to cut across existing policy and organizing silos. Improving our nation’s child-care system will have a compound effect, not only on the millions of women in the workforce but on communities and the economy as a whole.”
The report calls for a multi-pronged approach to mend the childcare system including making childcare more affordable for families while increasing wages, improving working conditions, and expanding access to training for childcare providers. The report recommends enabling these changes through increased public investment and an enhanced role for employers.
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.