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.
Australia has a large child care industry,[73] however in many locations (especially in inner-city suburbs of large cities and in rural areas) the availability is limited and the waiting periods can be up to several years.[74] The Australian government's Child Care Subsidy[75] scheme provides generous assistance with child care costs, but this still leaves many families with a large out of pocket expense. The median weekly cost of centre-based long day care in 2013 was approximately A$364[76] which puts it out of the reach of lower income earners.[77]
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]