Affordable child care helps parents keep their jobs

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Affordable child care helps parents keep their jobs

By - October 24, 2011

High-quality early child care, which helps prepare young children to succeed in school, is also a key factor in helping parents retain their jobs. In our latest policy brief, Economic Security: Key to Recovery and Prosperity, we highlight how maintaining a job can be difficult if not impossible without affordable child care.

The Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) program helps low-income families pay for child care so they can maintain jobs and gradually achieve self-sufficiency.

Without WCCC, affording the full cost of child care presents an enormous challenge to low-wage workers who are trying to make ends meet. The average monthly cost for child care for two children is $1,433. For a family of four with an income at 175 percent of the federal poverty level, or $3,216 per month, paying for child care would be unaffordable given other living expenses (see figure below).

child care costs_blog.png

At a time when families and our economy need child care more than ever, nearly 7,000 families have lost child care support due to a drop in eligibility from 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 175 percent of FPL. A cap was also placed on the program to limit the number of families receiving child care support.

Without affordable child care, families face a dilemma in balancing their own budgets: pay for child care in order to keep a job, but no longer be able to pay rent; or quit working altogether.

When families are forced to quit their jobs because they can no longer afford child care, the state may end up paying more. Once low-income families are no longer working, they may qualify for benefits  that assist unemployed workers.
These supports are critical for families who are out-of-work, but wouldn’t be necessary if families didn’t have to leave their jobs in the first place. Not only is this a step backwards for families, but it’s also a step backwards in the state’s goal of cutting costs and creating jobs.

In tough times, policymakers should be doing more, not less, to help people get and keep jobs.

Read the full brief here.

Look for our “Framework for Prosperity” later this week, where we will lay out concrete steps our state should take to create jobs and strengthen its public structures.