For Immediate Release
Contact: Virginia Rutter / Framingham State University Sociology
email@example.com / 206 375 4139
CCF PRESS ADVISORY: April 12-18, 2015 is the Week of the Young Child. This year’s theme is Celebrating Our Youngest Learners. A new report from CCF highlights just how fragmented our child-care and early education system is and points to models in the U.S. and abroad that can work.
AMERICA’S FRAGMENTED CHILD CARE AND EARLY EDUCATION SYSTEM (There are alternatives!)
April 13, MIAMI–At the opening of the week of the young child, Sara Gable, a nutrition professor at University of Missouri, reports to the Council on Contemporary Families, “Despite the continued increase in maternal employment and decades of research showing that quality child care benefits children, families, and employers, the US has made almost no progress since 1971, when President Nixon vetoed a universal child care bill passed by Congress, decrying it as “communal child-rearing.” Gable’s briefing report, “America’s Fragmented Child Care and Early Education System,” details the inconsistent, fragmented, expensive, and unreliable system through which today’s parents must navigate.
Parents must make a variety of inconsistent and expensive arrangements. Parents are working harder than ever. Among mothers with children under age 6, 64 percent are employed, with 72 percent working 35 or more hours per week. And even young children whose mothers are not employed spend an average of 21 hours per week outside of their mothers’ and fathers’ immediate care.
Gable reports that, “To support employment, parents need to make informal arrangements or enter the vast, private market of child care. Center-based care costs the most. Full-time infant care ranges from $5,496 in Mississippi to $16,549 in Massachusetts. For a 4-year-old, full-time care in the same states costs $4,800 and $12,320 a year respectively.”
Care providers are poorly paid. Despite the great expense to parents, the pay and working conditions for care providers and educators are not always optimal. Gable explains, “Employment in early education and child care pays poorly, even for teachers with a college degree. Among all center-based workers combined, median hourly wage is $10.60, ranging from a low of $9.00 for those with a high school diploma to $14.70 for those with a BA or higher. Median hourly wages are the lowest for people caring for the very youngest children ages birth to 3 years. These wages range from $8.60 (high school diploma or less) to $11.40 (BA or higher). College-educated workers across all parts of the child care and early education system earn far less than comparably educated members of the civilian workforce.” This results in high turnover rates. The report also details the fragmented standards for these caregivers.
Can we do better? Gable provides examples from abroad, as well as from the U.S. Military.
“Countries that best meet the needs of their youngest learners and families do so with notable investments in comprehensive, universal services. Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, France, and Norway all spend at least 1.0 percent of GDP on early childhood services. Five of these 6 countries provide a one-year parental leave at 50 percent of salary and have subsidized and accredited preschool services for at least 80 percent of 4-year-olds,” explains Gable.
At home, Gable reports, the U.S. Military Child Care Program is a model example that would serve all of our youngest children well. “The military subsidizes two-thirds of child care costs and parent fees are based on a sliding-fee scale. About 200,000 children attend the 800 centers and 3,500 home-based programs, which operate for up to 12 hours a day and are nationally accredited. And 40,000 specially-trained employees earn an average of $15.00 an hour and receive military benefits.”
Gable explains, “The Military’s program shows that it is possible to have government-sponsored quality, affordable child care that meets children’s developmental needs, supports working families, and gives parents peace of mind during the workday. Had a universal childcare bill not been vetoed in 1971, perhaps all Americans could have access to similar programs. Isn’t it about time?”
Additional facts about our youngest learners:
- With an all-time low fertility rate, we have fewer young learners but they are highly diverse.
- In 2009, of the 21.3 million children under age 5 years, 74.5 percent were white, 15.2 percent were Black, 4.7 percent were Asian, and 5.6 percent were Native American, Pacific Islanders, or mixed race. About 26 percent of them have Hispanic origins.
- Young learners are more likely than any other age group to live in poverty. One in four children under the age of 6 lives in poverty and 14.3 percent are White, 42.3 percent are Black, and 36.8 percent are Hispanic.
BRIEFING REPORT: America’s Fragmented Child Care and Early Education System by Sara Gable.
For Further Information
Contact Sara Gable, Associate Professor in Nutrition, University of Missouri, Columbia, firstname.lastname@example.org; 573.882.4628.
The Council on Contemporary Families, based at the University of Miami, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of family researchers and practitioners that seeks to further a national understanding of how America’s families are changing and what is known about the strengths and weaknesses of different family forms and various family interventions.
The Council helps keep journalists informed of notable work on family-related issues via the CCF Network. To join the CCF Network, or for further media assistance, please contact Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research and Public Education, at email@example.com, cell 360-556-9223.
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DATE: April 13, 2015