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Struggles in the child care industry

Struggles in the child care industry

By MoshoodPublished 6 months ago 2 min read
Struggles in the child care industry
Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

The child care industry in the United States is facing a critical challenge, leaving families, child care workers, and businesses in a precarious situation. With most American families spending well over ten thousand dollars annually on child care, the burden has become comparable to the cost of a state college education. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, parents like Britni Nuñez, who works in a chicken plant, find themselves grappling with the high cost of child care, where a weekly expense of $250 strains their budget significantly.

The narrative extends to child care centers like Kiddy Campus, owned by Robin Slaton. Even before the pandemic, financial struggles were prevalent for Slaton, and when COVID-19 hit, the situation worsened. Enrollment dropped, forcing Slaton to lay off teachers and make difficult decisions to keep the facility afloat. As the pandemic eased, the challenge shifted from a lack of enrolled children to a shortage of teachers. The inability to compete with higher wages offered by companies like Hobby Lobby, which pays $18 per hour with benefits, adds to the predicament. Slaton finds herself caught in a cycle – unable to pay higher wages without raising prices, yet unable to attract teachers due to lower pay.

This crisis is not isolated; it permeates the entire child care ecosystem. Lea Austin from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, highlights the contrast with other countries offering subsidized child care for parents. In the U.S., the pandemic exacerbated an already dire situation, leading to the closure of around 16,000 child care programs and the loss of 131,000 jobs.

While federal emergency COVID relief funds provided $39 billion to support child care, it's a temporary solution. The precariousness of the situation is evident in the experience of caregivers like Rikael Franklin, who relies on vouchers to afford child care. President Biden's proposed Build Back Better plan aims to provide permanent relief for child care costs but faces legislative challenges, leaving essential workers like Mari Slinker uncertain about the future.

The potential closure of Kiddy Campus symbolizes the larger crisis looming over the child care industry. Slaton's decision to put the center up for sale after 24 years underscores the dire circumstances faced by child care providers. Despite planning to advocate for more support for daycares nationwide, the immediate threat of closure hangs over Kiddy Campus, leaving the community in a vulnerable position.

The consequences of such closures go beyond financial strain. Essential workers like Slinker, whose four-year-old daughter attends Kiddy Campus, anticipate increased stress and worries about the well-being of their children. The impact on families, especially those reliant on child care services, is profound, affecting not only their finances but also their work-life balance and overall quality of life.

In conclusion, the struggle in the child care industry is a multifaceted crisis with profound implications for families, workers, and businesses. The need for sustainable solutions, such as those proposed in President Biden's plan, is evident. Without comprehensive support, the child care industry in the United States faces an uncertain future, leaving countless families in distress and jeopardizing the well-being of the nation's youngest members.

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Comments (2)

  • Vicki Lawana Trusselli 3 months ago

    This is so true. A group here in California texted me yesterday. They will be in Sacramento in May to rally about this issue. thank you for writing about this critical issue

  • Moshood (Author)6 months ago

    That so critical they need to do something about it

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