Last week two organizations released a new study, “A Lifetimes Worth of Benefits,” a report that details the effects of quality child care on family income, the gender gap, and women’s retirement security. The report, authored by the National Women’s Law Center and the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, analyzed the status of child care as well as the income and status of women’s economic and retirement status since they make such a large part of the child care workforce.


The report notes that the cost of child care is unaffordable for families, with that cost disproportionately affecting women. HHS recommends that child care payments represent no more than 7 percent of family income, but the report finds that for families making below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, child care costs comprise 35 percent of their income. Due to these high costs, many low-income families use informal, unpaid care, which may be preferred for some families as a more comfortable arrangement, but at the same time, it can create burdens for the unpaid caregiver, and sometimes may not offer as much reliability as a child care program.


The authors concluded that building a high-quality, affordable child care system will help families today and in the future. Children benefit from high-quality care with fewer children in poverty, resulting in better outcomes for their health, education, and earnings as adults. A high-quality child care program ensures that children are cared for in safe, nurturing environments that foster their healthy development and learning while parents and family members are seen as advocates who contribute valuable knowledge about their experiences and culture to support their children’s development.


Aside from the impact on children, the report highlights the fact that the child care workforce is heavily dependent on women, many minority and low-income. Ultimately a child care system that strengthens and becomes more stable results in greater long-term security for these workers both now and in the future.


One of CWLA’s three HOT TOPICS for the Virtual Hill Day on Wednesday May 12, is calling on Congress to enact the Child Care For Working Families Act. We hope you are planning to join your CWLA member colleagues for our 2021 Virtual Conference, Lessons Learned from 2020: Reaching New Heights for Children and Families, taking place from May 4-6, 2021. We have added on a fourth day for the CWLA 2021 Virtual Hill Day on Wednesday, May 12. In preparation we are holding the Special “Open Mic” calls will be held on Monday, April 19 and Monday, April 26 at 2:30 pm (ET).