Report Finds Care for Infants and Toddlers in America-Fragmented Patchwork Care System

Published September 28, 2016| Marie St. Fleur, Principal, St. Fleur Communications (SFC)

The New America Care Report  confirms what we all know.  Quality care for our infants in toddlers across America is scarce and terribly expensive. According to the report “On any given day, about 12 million children under the age of five will need a safe place to go and someone loving to care for them. A good early care and learning system should support the healthy development of children, particularly at a time when their brains are rapidly growing and laying the foundation for all future learning. A functioning system should sustain the financial stability and health of families, promote opportunity and equity, support and sustain businesses, and help the economy thrive. And an effective system should be built on three pillars: affordable cost, high quality, and easy availability. That is not happening in the current fragmented, patchwork system.” I encourage you to visit the care index to see how children are faring in your state.

Across our country state and local governments are presiding over deteriorating systems that are starving for money and failing to provide our children the best or even a fair opportunity to a smart start. Our Massachusetts system is doing better but we should not be patting ourselves on the back. As is often said about district performance on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment (MCAS) test a step above failure is not cause for celebration.

Read the Massachusetts case study detailed in the report. You will find that all communities in Massachusetts are burdened by the costs of care. In home care offered by nanny’s on average costs $31,827, and center based care on average costs $13,208 per year. The reports find “the cost for infants is even higher—$16,682 a year, more than a quarter of the state’s median household income, and nearly 90 percent of a minimum wage workers’ earnings.” On average a whopping 33% of hard earned house hold income must be dedicated too childcare; leaving little for housing, food, utilities and other essential needs.

As noted by the researchers, “that (Massachusetts) may have one of the most successful early care and learning systems in the country says more about what’s lacking in the rest of the country than what’s thriving in Massachusetts, a state with a still-struggling system.” The Massachusetts system is in crisis. The brunt of that crisis is born by a workforce which is over 90 percent women and paid poverty wages; and by our infants and toddlers whose continuity of care is compromised by this fragmented patchwork care system.

These facts are not new. It is time for action. What will you do about it?