While the country is still coping with the impact of the pandemic, families in the United States are struggling with managing child care. Since the pandemic began in 2020, many daycare facilities in the country have shut down.
Most parents have been challenged to take care of their children and work from home simultaneously. Parents find it challenging to connect with daycares that have space for their children and don’t have fees that are heavy on the pocket.
In the United States, with the high working population, childcare plays a crucial role in boosting workplace productivity for parents. On the other hand, quality childcare is essential for the child’s development in the early years.
Due to the increase in demand for childcare, and lack of an adequate number of facilities and staff, childcare costs have risen significantly in the United States. Let’s look at a few ways these increased childcare costs affect families.
Work-time adjustments and productivity
Most parents work fewer hours than usual when they have kids to take care of during the day.
Without a daycare facility, parents are challenged to coordinate their schedules to ensure the children are also having a productive day. It is easy for parents to be late for meetings online when they are tasked with managing kids all through the day. This can cause a lot of stress for working parents, which ends up affecting their quality of work and life.
When productivity at the workplace becomes an issue for working parents, it is challenging to complete the tasks at hand, let alone enhance their skills and pursue education to grow through the ranks. In fact, in many cases, working parents with no access to daycare have dealt with performance issues on the work front and lost jobs, dealing with pay cuts and demotions.
No time for growth and seeking new opportunities
In terms of working parents who have been performing well at the workplace, some of them cannot take steps forward. There have been many cases of individuals denying promotions and refusing reasonable job offers because, as parents of young kids, they do not have the time to commit to such opportunities.
Some parents have also quit their jobs as a sacrifice to take care of their children during the pandemic, which has caused the families to earn a lower income.
Financial stress is a significant outcome of rising child care costs for families. Parents across the country are struggling to keep up with daycare and preschool bills.
When you consider kids with parents who cannot work from home, they do not even have the option to manage their kids and work simultaneously. They have to enroll their children in the best daycare or preschool centers available to them within their budget.
With average daycare costs rising throughout the country, many working parents are forced to spend most of their earnings on providing their children with care. The average price of daycare per year in the country is anywhere between $10,000 and $20000. So one can imagine the impact of the financial burden created by child care costs, especially for low-income families.
Leaving the workplace is not a feasible option for many parents, and daycare is necessary, causing a “catch twenty-two” situation for the parents. Middle to low-income families are also opting to have fewer children due to the rising child care costs and absence of financial assistance.
According to Cool Things Chicago, the best daycare facilities in the city provide full-time and part-time options for parents to choose daycare services based on their needs or budget constraints.
Children that are not attending the daycare are suffering.
Parents who cannot afford daycare in their city of residence are forced to take care of their kids at home.
While working from home, they cannot provide their children with the same kind of activities for learning and socializing that a good daycare can provide. The children’s growth is hampered in this case as they spend time at home without having a productive day or learning any new skills.
Well-managed daycare facilities have specific programs for kids that help them evolve and learn something new every day, and working parents can’t possibly replicate the same at home. The healthy development of young children belonging to families that have opted out of daycare is at stake, and there’s not much parents can do about it.
Big daycare facilities and companies have seen increased costs, leading to increased fees. The increased supply costs for additional equipment for cleaning and sanitizing, costs to ensure social distancing, and other logistical factors have added to the overall cost of running the facilities. The protective gear, rising food prices, and staff costs are not helping with the expenses, and the daycare industry is experiencing, overall, cost increases.
Daycare facilities trying to keep up with their pre-pandemic pricing are having challenges finding staff. Staff shortages mean a loss of slots for children in daycare because daycare sites must adhere to state law on caregiver-to-child ratios.
No matter what type of child care parents opt for, whether it’s a daycare facility or at-home care, costs are high today, and they are accounting for a hefty percentage of a family’s income in the country.
There are definite downsides to watching your kids yourself or having neighbors or friends watch kids. A toddler’s early years are of utmost importance for growth and development. Educational and social aspects of quality child care are extremely important.
Under the current scenario, parents have to opt for daycare facilities with enough staff, space, and activities for their little ones to ensure children get the right amount of attention and care. A good daycare is worth the investment to work and earn while their children are in a facility they can trust.
Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.
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