Child care may cost US mothers their careers

Global Business

Child care may cost US mothers their careers

Families all over the world face the daunting task of paying for child care. But in the United States, the cost has become so steep that many parents, especially women, choose to drop out of the work force.

CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.

Vicki Little of Aurora, Colorado, her 8-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son see a lot of each other. Vicki became a stay-at-home mom when he was born.

“I think a ton of people are in this situation,” said Little.

Parents who, because of the cost of child care, decided to quit their full-time jobs.

“A lot of my girlfriends, we all graduated college together,” Little said. “They are not working anymore and it’s not because they don’t want to. It’s because they can’t afford daycare.”

According to the Center for American Progress, the average cost for two kids in a child care center is nearly $18,000 a year. But it’s not like Diane Gadison, who runs the Early Success Academy, is cashing in. Rent, supplies and health and safety regulations help make these expensive places to run.

“It always bothers me when people say, oh child care, it’s so expensive, bring it down,” said Gadison.

“I pay $2,275 a month for my twins,” said Crain’s Detroit Business Sr. Reporter Dustin Walsh. “I can buy several houses with that money.”

Walsh found that Vicki Little’s story is pretty common.

“Women have been leaving the workforce, particularly of prime working age, between 25 and 54, at a pretty stark high,” said Walsh.

Seventy percent of U.S. women in that group currently have jobs. That number has dropped some in recent years while labor force participation rates for women in Germany, Canada and Japan have steadily gone up.

“So while I can’t assign causality to why women’s labor force participation has fallen in the United States in the last 16-17 years, it certainly is suggestive that we don’t have policies in place that help women stay or enter the labor force,” said Economic Policy Institute Senior Economist Elise Gould.

Gould says better subsidized child care and paid leave would benefit women in particular, because as traditional caregivers who make less on average than men, they’re more likely to stop working. More employed women in the U.S., she and others argue, would spur economic growth.

“And growing that workforce is one of the really only effective means to do so,” said Walsh.

Day care owner Gadison says she bends over backwards to make her child care affordable.

“We do subsidize and we have a sliding scale for parents who can’t afford it,” said Gadison.

In the meantime, Little has put off a full-time career to make child care her focus.

It’s a choice countless other U.S. families are making too.