When I gave birth to my son four years ago, I had no idea what I was going to do for child care.
I worked a full-time, non-flexible job from 9-5 pm, and like many millennial parents in the United States, money was tight for my partner and me. We had a ton of student loans and zero disposable income, so all of our child care options were simply out of reach. Lucky for me, my mother stepped in and provided child care while I was at work, even though she lived two hours away in another state. Yes, you read that right - TWO HOURS away. That was our only solution, but it shouldn’t have been. I am so grateful to my mom for the care she provided; and even though she saved us money, I know that what she did was unpaid labor and a big sacrifice for her. She gave up her life for almost two years to watch my son, leaving my father, whom she also provides caregiving to at home back in PA.
I know access to affordable, quality childcare would have helped my family, and is something we need for working families across the country.
For many families across the nation, childcare costs often exceed the costs of housing, tuition, transportation, and food.  In fact, in 30 states and the District of Columbia, infant care costs exceed the average cost of college tuition. . So it is no surprise, but no less unacceptable, when we see that 83% of parents with children under the age of five struggle to access affordable, high-quality early learning programs for their children.  In fact, the annual cost of infant care takes up more than half of a millennial’s median salary. 
In addition to this, the unaffordable cost of childcare is unfairly forcing moms out of the labor force and pushing the much-needed wages of families down. This not only hurts families, it hurts our economy too. In the U.S, women’s labor force participation peaked at 67 percent in early 2000 and has declined to 63 percent in August 2017. The long rise and progress in women’s labor force participation over the past four decades of the 20th century has stopped and even retreated since then.  Investing in childcare is a crucial step to recapture this progress and restore women’s labor force participation so that we can support our families and strengthen the economy.
Right now, Congress has a solution right in front of them: The Child Care for Working Families Act  is a comprehensive solution that would expand access to affordable, high-quality childcare and pre-K for families while improving compensation and training for the childcare workforce. If passed, it would:
- Lower childcare costs for low-income and middle-income families to no more than 7% of a family’s household income through a sliding scale, regardless of how many children they have.
- Support universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all low- and middle-income 3 and 4 year-olds.
- Significantly improve compensation and training for the childcare workforce (currently one of the lowest-paid professions) to ensure that our nation’s teachers and caregivers have the support they need.
- Assist parents in selecting the childcare provider of their choice—whether that be a center or family childcare home, friend, relative, or neighbor. In addition, improve care during non-traditional hours to help meet the needs of working families.
- Support for more inclusive, high-quality childcare providers and centers for children with disabilities.
- Help all Head Start programs meet newly expanded duration requirements and provide full-day, full-year programming.
It’s more important than ever that we speak up. Too often, people think of childcare as a “personal issue” - as in our own problem to solve. But we know that when enough people are experiencing the same problem, it’s not an epidemic of personal failings, but a national structural problem that we can solve together. Continued investments like these can improve the well-being of our children, our own peace of mind and productivity at work, the care workforce, our communities, as they also boost our businesses and our economy.
*The more of us who raise our voices on this issue, the more noise we’ll make and the more powerful we’ll be! After you take action, send this link to your friends and family so they can sign on, too: https://action.momsrising.org/sign/MurrayScott
Together we are a powerful voice for moms, children, and families!