An Unattainable Necessity: Childcare for Working Parents

childcare for working parents

by Katharine Tejeda

Childcare is a necessity for a parent, especially a working parent. Affordable childcare allows parents to remain in the workforce and help support families. However, no one talks about how hard it is to get. Many middle-class families who may appear on paper that they can afford it actually struggle to pay for the full cost of childcare, and unfortunately, they make too much for aid to help with these costs. (1) Low-income families who do qualify for this aid sometimes don’t even get it. Of the 13.5 million people who qualify, only about 1.9 million receive any form of help, which is about 1 in 6 eligible children. (1)

An Untenable System

Mothers all across the US feel trapped in this “untenable system”. If they earn more money, they end up taking home less. A submission was sent to Working Mother that stated, “I knew from experience if I let the public benefit system decide how far I am eligible to go, I wouldn’t meet the aspirations I had for myself or my daughter.” (1) For parents who need to work, childcare options usually come down to a friend, family or neighbor.

But what happens to the families that don’t have that as an option? The federal survey of ‘Income and Program Participation” reports that 56 percent of young children spend time in at least two types of childcare, with 24 percent spending time in three or more types of care and 5 percent spending time in four types of care. (2) Parents who don’t have the means to have childcare are forced to put their kids in over 5 different types of childcare! (2) There are only 5 working days a week. This situation brings so much instability for kids; unfortunately, what are the other options for them?

Financial Challenges of Childcare

Being a parent in the United States can feel like a constant financial challenge. Over the past decade, middle-class wages have barely kept up with the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, the necessary costs of housing, education, health care, and childcare have risen. (2) Under the current policies, most parents have to cover childcare costs all on their own. Doing so isn’t cheap. Working families paying for childcare spend about 40 percent more than what is considered affordable. (2) To go even further, low-income working families spend more than one-third of their income on childcare! (2)

Bar chart showing percentage of income spent on childcare

Flexible Work Solutions

If companies are not offering flexibility to their employees, what do you think happens to parents facing childcare issues? This lack of flexibility affects women more significantly than men. So, let’s be honest and specific, how do you think this affects moms in the workforce? Companies need and should move to more flexible opportunities. By hiring parents, especially moms, you’re building a company culture that encourages employees to work smart, not endlessly.

Boulo connects high quality driven women to companies that value women’s influence in the workplace, prioritize diversity, and promote a flexible work culture. We find roles not offered on job boards for candidates, and candidates not found on job boards for companies. Boulo becomes your personal network!


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