Want to get kids the BEST deal this Black Friday? Help them get affordable child care!
This Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday. Maybe you’ll witness an unfortunate stampede for that amazing deal on a big screen tv, or perhaps you’ll finally get that pressure cooker you’ve been seeing all over Facebook. For many families, though, the best deal they could possibly hope for is the ability to find - and afford - high quality care for their kids.
Families like my college BFF. The other day we were catching up about all the usual things. Work, the weather, and of course: our kids. We both have two kids aged 5 and under, and we were discussing what toys were on their lists this holiday season. My son is into LEGOs right now, which isn’t the cheapest hobby. She, however, mentioned that she’s spending a whopping $3,400 a month on child care for her two and four-year-old kiddos.
My jaw literally dropped when she told me this. With nearly $4000/ month on child care, who can even consider Black Friday? While our country goes nuts for consumerism and sales this week, let’s put our priorities where they should be: strengthening the future for our kids and families.
Luckily my friend has the resources to piece together care for their children right now, however, many other families don’t have this luxury. Not only do many families struggle to FIND childcare, but as we know, affording it is quite another challenge. Infant childcare costs more than public college tuition in a majority of states, so it is no surprise that an astounding 83% of parents with children under the age of five struggle to afford care in our country. Not to mention, a study recently released by the Center for American Progress (CAP) found that 77% of parents with children under the age of five report that lack of access to child care has negatively impacted their career advancement - meaning that this struggle is impacting future growth and economic security for millions of families.
This isn’t just a financial gut punch to families, but also to the workforce and our economy!
Families deserve enriching child care options that won’t break the bank and will work for them, and child care assistance is essential for helping families, especially low-income families, find and afford the high-quality care they need.
High-quality early care and education (including programs like Head Start) are essential to meeting the needs of children and their families. It helps children get the solid start they need and their parents get and keep the jobs they need to support their families. This includes the workforce who are caring for our children while also trying to afford child care of their own -- early educators are some of the lowest paid workers in our country and have hourly wages that are 23 percent lower than similar workers in other occupations and rarely receive job-based benefits that support their health and well-being.
Last year, Americans spent a whopping $6.2 BILLION dollars on Black Friday. And yes, that was billion with a B. So, what would happen if Congress spent just HALF of that ensuring that kids and families had the foundation they need to thrive, strengthening families, communities, AND the economy?
Funding childcare is truly a no brainer. When we make these investments in high-quality early learning programs, the economic returns are HUGE — for every $1 invested in high-quality early learning there is a 13% return! In fact, economists suggest that a significant investment in childcare would increase women's overall labor force participation enough to boost GDP by roughly $210 billion, or 1.2%. Now that’s what I call I no brainer!
So, when does this need to happen? Yesterday! Or more realistically, now. Last year, Congress made a historic increase to the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which helps struggling families afford childcare. This increase was a much-needed and long overdue investment, but it was just a first step. Similarly, the Head Start program is reaching just 31% of eligible kids - and if you look at Early Head Start, that number drops to a pitiful 8%. Unacceptable! Across the country, we have too many kids on waitlists, too many parents making difficult decisions about where to send their children when they go to work on school, and too many early childhood educators struggling to make ends meet. Prior to last year’s increase for CCDBG, the number of children receiving CCDBG-funded care had reached its lowest point in two decades. Even with the new funding, too many families still do not receive the help they need finding and affording high-quality child care – just 15 percent of children eligible under federal parameters receive child care assistance.
Families, like my college BFF, should not have to spend $3400 a month on childcare. Families who are eligible for subsidized care should have access to this life-changing benefit. No early educator should struggle to afford to put food on the table.
For millions across the country, child care eats up the bulk of their income, leaving little for frivolous purchases - like that discounted extra vacuum. As you think about the billions of dollars that will be spent this coming Friday, consider making a stand for something that really needs funding: giving kids access to early care and education that fits their needs!
*And, after you take action be sure to forward this email, share the action links on Facebook and Twitter to help build a movement that lifts us all. The more of us who take action, the faster we’ll get the solutions we need advanced through Congress.
Thank you for raising your voice, we are thankful for all that you do!