I was a working mother, and I’m acutely aware that affordable, high-quality child care is essential to enable parents to get and keep a job and to give children a strong start toward success in school and life. This is fundamental to the economic security of women and families and it’s central to the economic health of our county.
Eleven million children younger than age five are in some form of child care in the United States. There are 67,000 children under age five in Montgomery County.
Maryland has the nation’s lowest income threshold for parents to qualify for child care subsidies. So, only the poorest families receive a subsidy, and there is a long wait list. This is shameful.
The need for adequate and affordable child care is one of the most pressing issues facing working parents – a year of child care for a young child can cost more than in-state college tuition. When parents don't have access to affordable child care, it directly affects their ability to participate in the workforce, and that, in turn, affects employers. Some parents who would like to work simply can’t. Their desire to pursue career paths and higher education can be curtailed because child care is too expensive or not available. Especially for working women, child care difficulties can be an obstacle to working full time and the ability to earn higher wages.
Increased educational achievement results in greater earning power and increased productivity in adulthood, more involvement in the fabric of the community, and decreased reliance on government safety net programs. The quality and availability of early care also impacts workplace productivity and absenteeism.
In our concern to provide coverage for working parents and educate our children, we must not lose sight of the child care workers we are trusting to help raise them. They are often working parents themselves, and they deserve a living wage and access to suitable training.
I pledge to make sure that the county examines best practices around the country and identifies what we can do at the local level to expand child care options, availability, and training.