Child care

Because children’s experiences in the first five years of life establish the foundation for ongoing learning and progress, high-quality early care and education for all children is critical. Unfortunately, the American system for the provision of early care and education is deeply fragmented and severely under-resourced, which results in vastly uneven quality of and access to services. Quality child care access and affordability is a particular hardship for low- and moderate-income families, exacerbating inequities that can then persist for generations. That is why policymakers at every level of government need to prioritize investments in the child care system the same way they do infrastructure investments, because an effective child and early education system supports not just families but the economy and society overall.

At the same time, the United States lacks adequate national policies to support parents’ ability to remain in the labor force after having children, many parents—mostly mothers—drop out. This has important ramifications for their future work prospects, including their career path and earnings potential, which in turn have implications for family income levels, family well-being, and the economy as a whole. Lastly, it should not be overlooked that nearly 2 million adults, mostly women, are currently paid to provide early care and education services to more than 12 million children across the country. If these jobs were properly rewarded, they could be a desirable form of employment in every community. All of these challenges can be addressed with bold state, local, and federal investments in America’s children and families.

Publications

Assessing Ohio’s child care system

Infants and toddlers in Ohio need high-quality child care. There are nearly 400,000 working mothers in Ohio with children under age six and most use some form of child care when parents are working or for child enrichment purposes. This paper discusses how best to make sure children get good care and parents can continue to work, particularly for the 200,000 Ohio children who live under the official poverty line.[1]

Child care is expensive for Ohio families. Child care in Ohio is also often low quality which means that children aren’t getting the enrichment they need at a time in their life when high-quality care is essential to future success. Finally, Ohio’s child care system is complicated to navigate, with parents not always knowing how to find or determine what constitutes quality care. For these reasons, the public sector has a crucial role to play in pushing quality improvements and in helping parents with the costs.

At the Wage Floor: Covering Homecare and Early Care and Education Workers in the New Generation of Minimum Wage Laws

  • May 22, 2018
  • COWS
  • Sarah Thomason, Lea Austin, Annette Bernhardt, Laura Dresser, Ken Jacobs, and Marcy Whitebook.

In November 2012, fast-food workers in New York went on strike and the Fight for $15 was born.
Over the last five years, the movement has lifted wages for more than 17 million workers across the
nation by fighting for and winning numerous minimum wage policies (National Employment Law
Project 2016). Substantial minimum wage increases are underway in California, New York, Oregon,
and more than 30 cities and counties around the country. In states and cities covered by them, these
new minimum wages will increase earnings for 25 to 40 percent of workers (Reich, Allegretto, and
Montialoux 2017; Reich et al. 2016). After four decades of wage stagnation and rising inequality, the
movement has delivered real, much needed, and meaningful progress in a remarkably short period of
time.

Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector

The retail sector is an integral part of the Los Angeles landscape with almost half a million workers in the county, and 147,157 workers in the city. Retail makes up one-tenth of the private sector workforce in the county and is its second largest employer. Yet more than half of the county’s workforce earn low wages. In the past few years, local and statewide policies have focused on transforming low-wage work, including a raise in the minimum wage, increased worker protections, and required paid time off. Despite the statewide strengthening of workers’ rights protections, the unreliable hours and unpredictable schedules endemic in the retail industry mean these benefits become inaccessible to many workers. In part, the retail industry relies on scheduling practices that are not good for workers, such as forcing them to wait for their weekly schedules with only a few days notice. These practices not only undercut workers’ hours and their expectations thereof, but also their incomes, and can make it nearly impossible for workers to realize full and healthy lives.

Hour Crisis: Unstable Schedules in the Los Angeles Retail Sector explores worker hours and scheduling practices for “frontline floor” staff that include salespersons, cashiers, stockers, and food workers in large and chain stores. We used a participatory and research justice approach and worked with students, workers, and community partners to collect and analyze the data. Using mixed-sampling methodology, we collected a total of 818 surveys. In addition, we analyzed government data and conducted an extensive review of existing policy and academic literature on the topic.

Impact of the Governor’s FY 2019 Budget Adjustments on Children and Families

  • February 20, 2018
  • Connecticut Voices for Children
  • Ray Noonan, Lauren Ruth, Ph.D., Ellen Shemitz, J.D., Karen Siegel, Camara Stokes Hudson, Nicole Updegrove, and Jane McNichol, J.D.

Connecticut’s long-term fiscal health depends on an economy that benefits all families, businesses, and communities. To achieve this objective, the state needs a strategic budget that balances investment with fiscal responsibility. In this report, we find that the Governor’s latest budget proposal would move Connecticut away from these goals. Under the Governor’s plan, the Children’s Budget, the share of state spending devoted to children, would drop to 27.2 percent, a historic low, down from 27.8 in the budget approved last November.

The Governor’s budget includes significant cutscompared to the biennial budget approved by the General Assembly last October. The proposal would reduce spending in health and human services by 3.9 percent, K-12 education by 3.3 percent, early care and education by 2.6 percent, and higher education by 1.7 percent. The report warns that fixed costs (pensions, debt service, and retiree healthcare), although slightly lower than in the previous year, will continue trending upward, potentially further eroding these programs.

In addition to the present budget cuts, the Governor’s budget fails to address the impact of four fiscal restrictions inserted into the budget implementer during closed-door negotiations. The combination of a newly defined spending cap, a bond cap, a volatility cap, and a bond lock diminish this flexibility, tying the state’s hands and making it more difficult for Connecticut to make the strategic investments necessary to promote equitable opportunity and inclusive economic growth.

The report calls on the General Assembly to prioritize repealing or amending these fiscal restrictions.Furthermore, we urge policymakers to modernize the state’s revenue system, eliminating loopholes and broadening the tax base, and to invest in Connecticut’s future, with a focus on child care, education, and healthy child development.