Lack Of Affordable Child Care Keeps Workers At Home

Posted January 28, 2021 at 5:00 am by

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.

Percentage of families in areas that lack child care by county. Data from the Child Care Task Force 2020 Child Care Industry Assessment Report (Aug 2020).

“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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