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The Importance of Child Care for Working Parents

Gavin Wieske
January 27, 2015

In today’s society the majority of parents now work, regardless the age of their children. Most families work out of necessity because the economic climate dictates that there must be two bread winners in order to the pay the bills. Parents may face the danger of losing a job or missing a promotion because of illness, pregnancy, or taking care of loved ones. Since so many companies focus solely on the bottom line, it leaves too many parents having to look toward day care for a solution to their problem.

Given that the cost of child care can consume nearly one parent’s salary, a worker’s choice to leave the workforce so that the family doesn’t incur day care expense may seem like an economically rational decision. However, while a parent may choose to stay home, the short-term economic pressures are not without consequences since living costs are higher and there is no additional income to contribute for the household.

A recent study concluded that since the bubble burst in the economy in 2008, only married couples that have seen any economic growth in their household are those families where both parents are working. Consider that approximately seventy percent of mothers are currently in the labor force, including almost sixty-one percent of mothers with a child under the age of six years old. This is not just a women’s issue anymore since the changing nature of our financial environment necessitates a two income household.

While our workforce and families have changed dramatically, both employers and policymakers must make changes to make workplace policies match the way that we live and work today. The lawmakers need to take the necessary steps to support hardworking families for securing greater economic prosperity now and in the future. For working parent, having readily available and affordable child care is paramount for finding a solution.

According to americanprogress.org, child care services enable parents to get the education or training they need to access good jobs. In addition to the positive long-term impacts that high-quality preschool and child care have on children and the economy, these programs provide important benefits to working parents, especially working mothers. Child care makes it possible for low income or sole support parents to take advantage of opportunities for advancement.

Most working parents have four options for securing child care. The parents can work out a schedule that allows one of them to stay home, but this is increasingly difficult since most families rely on two incomes to stay financially afloat. Also, mothers are more likely than fathers to take time away from paid work to care for a child, which cuts into a mother’s lifetime earnings. A live-in or live-out nanny offers the convenience and flexibility of in-home care, but in addition to the expense of this type of child care, there are several other downsides to employing a nanny. If she’s sick or quits, you have no immediate backup.

A home daycare offers care by the same person in a homelike environment, but there’s often no immediate cover if the caregiver gets sick or is otherwise unavailable, and there’s no one to oversee or supervise the caregiver. A daycare center offers a more affordable and reliable option, with trained and certified staff and a social environment for your child. However, daycare centers have fairly inflexible hours and the group environment also means your child is likely to get sick more often, in which case you’ll have to make alternate care arrangements.

As the number of two working parents continues to increase, the demand for reliable and affordable child care will grow. The need for child care has never been greater because a still tough economy demands both parents work to keep their heads above water.

Sandbox Tip:

Sandbox provides software that helps centers engage with parents. Learn more about Sandbox parent engagement and why parents are loving it.

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