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The child care crisis causes job disruptions for more than two million parents each year

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Novoa, C. & Jessen-Howaed, S.
Publication Date: 
18 Feb 2020

Excerpted from article

At a time when more than two-thirds of young children have all available parents in the workforce, child care is a necessity for most families across the country. Yet new data show that the current child care system lets down parents at nearly every turn. High-quality licensed care can be hard to find, especially for rural and Latinx communities and for families of children with disabilities. Beyond the scarcity of child care is the expense: On average, families of children under age 5 spend $250 per week on child care. Together, these two facts force millions of parents into choosing from an unappealing list of options: spend more than they can afford on child care, settle for cheaper but potentially lower-quality care, or either leave the workforce or scale back their work hours to provide child care themselves.

New data from the National Survey of Children’s Health further sheds light on the prevalence of parents’ child care-related job disruptions. Center for American Progress analysis of these data reveals that in each year from 2016 to 2018, more than 2 million parents of children age 5 and younger—9 percent, or nearly 1 in 10 parents—had to quit a job, not take a job, or greatly change their job because of child care problems. This figure varies across states, from slightly less than 5 percent in Kansas to 14 percent in Oregon.* Other states with high rates of child care-related job disruptions include Nevada, South Carolina, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Florida.