Child Care Is Critical for Parents Struggling To Find or Hold On to Jobs

Safe and stable child care is essential to low- and moderate-income parents’ ability to find and hold on to jobs. It’s also expensive. As we show in our Making Ends Meet report, which estimates how much it costs to raise a family in California, the cost of care for two children takes up about 20 percent of a single-parent family’s basic budget – the amount needed to cover essential needs without public or private assistance. That equates to more than $1,000 per month for child care in many counties, a cost that is clearly prohibitive for low- and moderate-income families.

California’s child care programs offer a solution for tens of thousands of families in which parents are working, looking for work, or participating in training. These programs help families access safe, reliable, and affordable child care and serve more than 300,000 children every month, as we point out in our new chartbook, Key Facts About Child Care and Development Programs in California. However, the Governor’s Proposed 2011-12 Budget includes deep cuts to child care, including shifting potentially hundreds of dollars in costs each month to low- and moderate-income families. These proposed cuts would reduce total funding for California’s child care and development programs – which also include state preschool and afterschool – by more than 18 percent between 2010-11 and 2011-12, with almost all of the impact falling on child care programs. In fact, preschool and afterschool funding would remain essentially flat in 2011-12 compared to recent years, after adjusting for inflation. As the Legislature seeks a balanced approach to closing the budget gap, we hope that policymakers will adopt “solutions” that recognize that child care assistance is more important than ever as parents struggle to find or hold on to jobs in the wake of the Great Recession.

— Scott Graves

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