We know that the majority of women re-enter the workplace soon after having kids, and we know they need quality, flexible childcare in order to do this...but what often goes unexamined is how the astronomical cost of childcare makes working a zero-sum game for many of us, thus presenting us with the following conundrum: we can work, often in jobs where we get paid less than men, while someone else takes care of our kids, and cover the cost of childcare without contributing anything additional to our family's income, simply for the sake of holding on to our careers; or we can forfeit our careers to save the money we'd be paying for childcare by taking care of our kids ourselves. The equation becomes even more crippling with more than one kid under the age of five. I've seen my friends with twins or two small children leave the workplace altogether because it just didn't make financial sense to stay in it. This is not opting out (which, by the way, I think it great if it's ACTUALLY your choice) -- it's being pushed out.
As a single mom, I never not have the option of staying home with my daughter. But I still had to leave my chosen career -- teaching -- for a job that is far less rewarding to me (though it pays much better) because I could not afford childcare on what I was earning. When I was teaching, the cost of childcare consumed 75% of my take-home pay.
I do value the work that my childcare provider does enormously, and in fact I think she should be paid MORE than what she brings in each month; but the burden of early childhood education should not be born so heavily by an already-strapped middle class.