Child Care & Paid Family Leave Are Worse in Bad Economy
The State of Young America tells us that the issues plaguing young Americans aren't just bad. They're abysmal. The research project released by DEMOS, details a frightening glimpse into the lives of 18-34 year olds trying to start a life and start a family, particularly young women.
One discouraging fact from the data (page 53): just 11% of all workers had access to paid family leave. When it comes to young women and young families having their first child, a lack of paid family leave can be devastating, and leave new parents no choice but to get back to work right away. Not surprisingly, access to paid family leave depends on job level. If you’ve got the swanky Wall Street job you probably have a greater chance of having paid family leave (17%), where lower wage earners, like those at entry level jobs had a heck of a lot less possibility of paid family leave (5%).
When it comes to child care, you're looking at one of the largest expenses a family often has. Moms already know this, but according to the data, "center-based child care fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) exceeded annual median rent payments in every state" (page 55). And this isn’t just in places like New York City – child care costs for 2 children is more than average rent in all 50 states.
One young mom said, "the lack of affordable child care in California is the main reason my husband had to quit his well-paying full time job. The monthly rate of $900 a month per child for each of our 4 kids exceeded his take home pay. We decided that it didn't make sense for us both to work." More and more children are being cared for by ad-hoc child care arrangements, grandparents or other relatives, or stay at home dads.
We've seen the President take an important step to help many young working Americans, and we must focus on helping young women and families. High child care costs, low wages, and no paid family leave, are all issues women have had for generations. And in a tough economy they don't get better; they get worse.
The Democratic women EMILY’s List supports understand the struggles that families are facing. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit introduced a bill this year that would provide 12 weeks of paid benefits to new parents.
Rep. Maloney said “There couldn’t be a worse time than during an economic downturn to ask parents to choose between a paycheck and their new child or sick family member. Tough times call for strong supports for working families, like paid family and medical leave."
Senator Amy Klobuchar agrees, which is why she pushed to strengthen the Family and Medical Leave Act saying she will fight for workplace flexibility so no one has to lose their jobs. “No parent should have to choose between a paycheck and being with their child at a critical time.”
We couldn’t agree more. With more women in office we’ll have more leaders who understand the difficulties young families are facing during this tough economy. Republican tax cuts for the wealthy aren’t going to help a 28 year old new mother who has to work one job to pay the rent and a second job to pay for child care. We can do better in 2012, and we’re counting on EMILY’s List supporters to help us get there!
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