Lack Of Affordable Child Care Keeps Workers At Home
Posted January 28, 2021 at 5:00 am by Hayley Day
From Washington State Department of Commerce
Washington state’s economy is challenged by persistent gaps in the availability of affordable child care.
According to the Washington Child Care Collaborative Task Force, lack of access to affordable child care keeps over 133,000 potential workers out of Washington’s labor force.
The effects ripple through Washington’s economy, resulting in an estimated $14.7 billion less in personal earnings, $56.8 billion less in business output, $34.8 billion lower Gross State Product, and over $1 billion in lost tax revenue annually.
A new report from the task force recommends specific policy changes and investments that would result in increased affordability and availability of child care for all Washington families.
According to the report, in San Juan County, 44% of families lack child care options.
“We must invest in child care as essential infrastructure for strengthening Washington’s economy,” said Washington State Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Lack of access to quality, affordable child care is forcing more families to make difficult and financially detrimental choices.”
Brown cited the concerning “shecession” as one example of the consequence of the state’s inadequate child care system. Women are leaving the workforce at more than four times the rate of men since the pandemic. The numbers are even worse for communities of color.
The task force recommendations would allow more families to qualify for child care subsidies and eliminate the subsidy copay “cliff effect” that occurs when a small increase in earned income results in a spike in the portion a family must pay toward subsidized child care. Families routinely turn down pay raises or promotions in order to avoid losing the needed subsidy benefit. A gradual reduction would allow more parents at the upper end of eligibility to participate in the program, stay in the labor force and continue to support their families and advance their careers.
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