25 May 2010

Child Care Cuts Leave Women Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

As part of their ongoing series “The New Poor”, which seeks to tell the stories of our national struggle to recover from the Great Recession, yesterday’s New York Times featured a revealing piece about the plight of low-income mothers, many of whom are finding that recent cuts to child care subsidies in their states are making it impossible to find affordable, quality child care – and thus pushing them towards welfare as the only viable means of supporting their families.

Despite an increase in overall federal funding for child care subsidies by the Obama Administration (to the tune of an additional $2 billion this year), experts agree that in many states, funding simply isn’t keeping pace with the growing need for affordable child care -- especially as job markets remain difficult to penetrate. Add to that the fact that states are given the discretion to structure the dispersal of the monies they do receive for subsidies as they wish, and you've got a recipe for plenty of bureaucratic red tape and the creation of perpetual holding patterns when it comes to granting aid. Wait-lists thousands for subsidized child care of children deep have become the new normal, according to the Times, and as a result, more and more mothers are finding it impossible to hold down jobs that would keep them off welfare and help keep their families afloat (if barely).

Though this growing problem may be new news to some, it happens to be an issue that Carol Burnett – named a 2010 Woman of Vision at last week’s Gloria Awards gala – knows inside and out. Calling child care the “single most important work support that helps low-income women move toward economic self-sufficiency”, Burnett has been working for two decades to ensure that families in her home state of Mississippi have access quality child care that they can actually afford.

As executive director of the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative (a Ms. Foundation grantee), Carol advocates for state policy reform and works to strengthen the capacity of child care centers across Mississippi. To date her organization has offered assistance to more than 800 providers and continues to work to ensure that one day, “families will get the services children need so that parents can work and so that children’s development will be supported at every age level beginning at birth—without regard to whether the parent can pay.”

It sounds like a utopian ideal -- but it's one that we're fully committed to fighting for. Learn more about Carol's vision for a better future for all of our children -- and take a look at how another grantee, the National Women's Law Center (featured in the Times article) is addressing this important issue.

No comments:

Post a Comment