The Struggle for Child Care: A Crisis Brews in America
Parents are having an increasingly difficult time trying to find acceptable child care facilities for their kids, and this is causing some serious economic backlash. The United States is facing a child care crisis, with 32 percent of working parents having a hard time just finding places that can look after and educate their children. The crisis stems from the difficulty of finding facilities that are affordable, available, and of reasonable quality. A range of factors are negatively affecting these criteria, leaving parents and primary caregivers desperate for a solution.
According to a study, the United States is the third most expensive country to raise a child. The study calculates that an average American couple with two children will spend 33.2 percent of their income on child care. The majority of these expenses come from education, such as preschool or daycare.
A different study indicates that child care centers cost as much as public colleges in 28 states, with some facilities costing up to $2,000 monthly, depending on the age of the child. Cheaper alternatives are off the table for most parents because these usually sacrifice quality or are impossible to find within reasonable distance.
Although enterprising individuals can open franchised child care businesses, working American parents are still having a hard time finding centers that can look after and educate their children. Government-run centers used to be the answer, but even these facilities are getting scarcer.
Iowa shuttered 42 percent of its child care facilities because of high maintenance costs and strict standards. Parents and primary caregivers struggle to find daycare and kindergartens for their children, which can in turn cause problems at work. This could affect their finances, which exacerbates existing problems.
Quality is Everything
The child care crisis isn’t affecting only parents and kids, but also the providers. Giving more than adequate attention and education to a child is a difficult job, but their salaries rarely reflect such efforts. In Maryland, a child care provider makes an average of $25,203 annually. Some day care teachers only make $8 per hour, despite some of them having bachelor’s degrees and the student debt that goes with them.
Their employers are also on the ropes, since some of them already spent 60 percent of their income in salary. But keeping up the quality of their facilities, such as providing healthy snacks and a clean environment, strains their budgets. They also either have to take in fewer children or hire more teachers to keep the ratio of caregivers and children within acceptable limits. Either choice can send a child care center into debt and shut them down, unless they charge more for their services.
The discrepancies between affordability, availability, and quality are breaking both parents and providers. Parents are hard-pressed to find affordable and available child care facilities. On the other hand, child care providers have to face difficult choices just to provide quality services. The real victims of the crisis, however, are America’s children and their futures. Now more than ever, private citizens, commercial organizations, and government institutions should work together and find ways to ensure that every child gets the childhood they deserve.