Families Face Trouble Finding Child Care

Nov 14, 2011

By Emily Firgens

We write often about the difficulties families face trying to afford quality child care and help paying for it. A new case study offers real life examples from families in New York City that highlight the frustrations parents and caregivers face when it comes to child care assistance.

The report, When Families Eligible for Child Care Subsidies Don't Have One, provides the stories of 83 randomly selected families in New York City interviewed by the Center for Children's Initiatives after being eligible for a child care subsidy but not receiving one. Parents discussed being forced to cut back their hours, turn down promotions, training opportunities, or even quit work because of inconsistent child care. One quarter of families interviewed were unemployed and told interviewers that child care was a primary reason for their unemployment. Forty respondents said they rely on relatives for care out of economic necessity, which can create additional burdens for low-income families and neighborhoods.

Ms. Martin, a mother in search of child care, said, "The biggest problem in the community is that not everyone works 9 to 5 and it is hard to find child care for overnights or weekends." In her previous job she said, "I had to change my time, arrive late, miss days of work and my overall work performance was negatively impacted." Another mother interviewed, Christina, said she was unable to accept a job offer because she couldn't find affordable, acceptable care.

The families interviewed are aware of how important quality child care is to a child's education and many want policymakers to help families cover these costs. However, in New York City and across the rest of the country, families face changing income eligibility limits, long waiting lists, increased co-pays, and smaller reimbursement rates for child care providers. These policy changes result in reduced access to child care subsidies and make challenging economic times even harder for families in search of child care.

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