On a every day basis within the U.S., too many parents are forced to make hard decisions about whether to go to work or take care of their young children – and the impact on the economy is devastating. The truth is, fewer women within the workforce costs the United States $650,000,000,000 a year. Jessica Sager, Co-founder and CEO of All Our Kin, a network of family child care educators, shares her perspective on what’s ahead for child care in America — and the price of inaction.
Konstanze Frischen: Jessica, you and the All Our Kin community have championed family child care on the federal level for a very long time. Recently President Biden signed an Executive Order that goals to expand access to inexpensive child care. What does this mean for working parents and providers?
Jessica Sager: It’s definitely a step in the correct direction, and we’re already seeing some level of impact. For instance, the federal Office of Child Care has mandated states to set their child care provider reimbursement rates at at least the 50th percentile of their market rate survey – meaning that providers in some states will see reimbursements cover more (though not all) of their costs, and families may have more assistance by means of child care subsidies. If we mix actions like these with federal laws that mandates ongoing investment in child care, then we may have an actual win.
Frischen: You’re employed directly with family child care providers, who often live in overburdened, under-resourced communities. What do we want to find out about family child care?
Sager: It is a workforce of primarily women who are attempting to fill the gaps within the system by taking care of neighborhood children in their very own homes. It is a critical source of take care of infants and toddlers, the first source of take care of parents who work evenings and weekends, and wonderful for any family who wants an intimate, nurturing setting. And yet the policies and funding that we do have for child care, that are limited to begin with, often miss family child care.
Frischen: Your data suggests that for each latest family child care business, 4 to 5 parents can return to work. So there’s a direct lever there. But for a lot of, early child care is solely unaffordable. So how do you match the small business demands of the educator with what parents can afford to pay?
Sager: That is where the absence of public funding becomes glaringly obvious. Child care often costs greater than in-state college tuition. At the identical time, early childhood educators are earning poverty-level wages, and it’s also true that our child care system was built on exploiting the unpaid and underpaid labor of Black and brown women. Child care employees are still eight times more more likely to be receiving poverty-level wages than their peers in K-12. But affordability for families and compensation for educators don’t must exist in opposition. They’re really a part of the identical thing: a publicly-funded system that enables families to afford care and allows educators to earn fair wages.
Frischen: How does All Our Kin are available there?
Sager: We’ve built a responsive model for helping educators arrange their very own businesses, helping them access the most recent knowledge about child development and deliver high-quality programming that is rooted in what children must thrive. We have shown that in doing so, we will increase the standard of care, in addition to educators’ earnings and well-being. The truth is, we’ve found that each dollar invested in supporting these programs can deliver a return of $15 to $20 in regional economic advantages, stemming from educators’ and fogeys’ increased earnings.
Frischen: How does All Our Kin support educators?
Sager: We’ve helped over 5,000 women arrange businesses, meet their state’s licensing requirements, do all of the foundational training to open their program as a proper, in-home child care business. We support them as they learn all features of that business, from money flow to marketing to tax deductions. It’s the form of training that empowers educators to construct the wealth they deserve. After that, we turn to educational coaching and group skilled learning on every kind of topics: child development, family engagement, mental health, and other crises that children and families might experience.
Frischen: We all know that hundreds of thousands of American parents resort to quitting their jobs to care for their children. That is actually damaging to the economy. What are the implications here?
Sager: American corporations are struggling to search out employees. After we take into consideration economic recovery, we have to be fascinated by working parents and child care. This issue is especially true for girls. We all know that lack of access to child care pushes moms out of the workforce, which could cost some as much as $600,000 over their lifetimes. In the course of the pandemic, we saw many ladies leave the workforce. Now, in 2023, there are 217,000 fewer women within the workforce than in February 2020, versus 1.3 million more men.
Frischen: What’s on the horizon for public funding proposals? Beyond the Executive Order you spoke about earlier, there are creative ideas being discussed at once, like making it a precondition that corporations provide child care in the event that they want federal funding. Are you hopeful?
Sager: Yes, I’m hopeful. While we still need Congress to create lasting change on the federal level, we’re seeing state and native lawmakers taking drastic motion to compensate educators and provide families. In Washington, DC, for instance, the town council has allotted $10,000 to $14,000 to each child care educator as an interim measure, in order that they’ll keep doing this work that they love while we move towards paying them something closer to the true cost of care. Meanwhile, in Latest Mexico, voters actually voted on an amendment that made early childhood education a constitutional right.
We’re also seeing educators take motion. In Connecticut, All Our Kin’s home base, a coalition of organizations, early childhood educators and fogeys recently held statewide rallies for the 2nd annual “Morning Without Child Care.” When educators are capable of tackle the state, lead rallies, testify at legislative hearings, that’s what gives me probably the most hope of all. Morning Without Child Care gave rise to nationwide action, which this yr will happen on May 8. So stay tuned!
Frischen: Jessica, you talk about child care providers as educators — our youngsters’s “first teachers.” This should be linked to what you were saying about giving the career the respect that it deserves.
Sager: Yes, it’s who they’re! Family child care educators lay the muse for youngsters’s cognitive, social and emotional development, with links to executive function development – the flexibility to plan, execute against plans, and contribute successfully in life. Their work will reverberate throughout children’s lives – as will the general public investments we make on this early moment in learning and education.
Jessica Sager is an Ashoka Fellow since 2017.