The story becomes even bleaker for mothers who are living below the poverty line. As Table 1 shows, 26 percent of working mothers in poverty pay for child care out of pocket, and those expenses eat up nearly half—42.6 percent—of their monthly wages. It is vital that these women have work support, since they are more likely to be single parents and since seeking paid employment is required to have access to certain governmental benefits. Employment is also an important pathway into the middle class, but when child care is as expensive as it is, it places a disproportionate burden on the mothers who can least afford it.
Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) provides low-income, working families with access to affordable, quality child care that allows them to continue working and contributes to the healthy, emotional and social development of the child. CCAP can help families pay for care in center-based or home settings. Families are required to cost-share on a sliding scale based on family size and income.
In almost half of all states, the cost of child care exceeds the average rent payment, meaning that too many families with young children end up struggling to make ends meet. In 2011, the latest year for which data are available, the average family with a working mother and a child under age 5 that made child care payments spent nearly 10 percent of its total family income on child care. While that may not sound like an overwhelming burden, it ends up amounting to nearly a quarter—22.5 percent—of married mothers’ earnings, and more than a quarter—26.1 percent—of never-married mothers’ incomes. (see Table 1)
More contemporary proposals for government advancement of day care in the United States have experienced a checkered path, for example, in 1971, the Comprehensive Child Development Act was passed by Congress, but was vetoed by Richard Nixon. It "would have created nationally funded child care centers providing early childhood services and after-school care, as well as nutrition, counseling, and even medical and dental care. The centers would charge parents on a sliding scale."[63] Various proposals have been considered, but to date, none leading to legislation that would establish a national policy supporting day care in the United States.
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