Most families currently have three options for securing child care. First, parents can stay at home and care for their children themselves. But this is increasingly difficult, as most families now rely on two breadwinners to stay above water. Moreover, mothers are more likely than fathers to take time away from paid work to care for a child, which can exacerbate mothers’ lifetime earnings gap. Second, parents can pay for child care out of pocket. But this approach is very costly for families, eating up 35.9 percent of a low-income family’s monthly budget. The third option for families is to use federal- or state-funded child care, but access to any publicly funded program, let alone a high-quality program, is very limited. Nationwide, nearly three in four children are not enrolled in a federal or state-funded pre-K program.
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Spain provides paid maternity leave of 16 weeks with 30-50% of mothers returning to work (most full-time) after this[citation needed], thus babies 4 months of age tend to be placed in daycare centers. Adult-infant ratios are about 1:7-8 first year and 1:16-18 second year.[citation needed] Public preschool education is provided for most children aged 3–5 years in "Infantil" schools which also provide primary school education.[citation needed]
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