Investing in Infant and Toddler Child Care to Strengthen Working Families

Investing in Infant and Toddler Child Care to Strengthen Working Families

Greater public investment in affordable high-quality child care is needed to advance equitable access and opportunity for low-income families and families of color, a report from the Center for American Progress argues. Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation, the report, Investing in Infant and Toddler Child Care to Strengthen Working Families, found that families in the top quintile of household income were nearly four times as likely to have access to licensed care for infants and toddlers under the age of 3 than those in the bottom quintile (52 percent vs. 14 percent). The report also found that white families had higher rates of access (36 percent) to child care than African-American (34 percent), Asian-American (29 percent), Latinx (16 percent), or other (27 percent) families, and that Latinx parents are most likely to work evenings, weekends, or the night shift. According to the study, median parental income drops by about 10 percent and average credit card debt spikes in the months before and after the arrival of a baby, while average rent or mortgage payments increase by about 15 percent in the year after childbirth. Low-income mothers, who are less likely to have flexible work schedules or paid parental leave, often see a significant drop in income, as do married mothers and Latinx mothers, whose labor participation rates fall following childbirth — even as single mothers and African-American mothers tend to increase their labor force participation and income. The author calls on Congress to increase federal investment by passing the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would cap childcare expenses at 7 percent of family income for most families, and to increase funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

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