This Is Why Nearly 2 Million Parents Sacrifice Their Careers for Child Care

Young mother is holding her crying baby daughter on her hip while trying to load the washing machine.
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Nearly three years into my life as a parent, there’s little about being a mom that still rattles me.

I’m used to the lack of sleep.

Public temper tantrums don’t embarrass me.

Bring on the poop, pee and vomit — dealing with bodily fluids is just part of the job.

But the thought of day care sort of terrifies me.

Some fears are irrational: My daughter won’t end up loving her teacher more than she loves me, and I’m told the extra exposure to kid-germs will build up her immune system.

However, affording the stress-inducing cost of child care is a very legitimate concern.

All across the country, parents of young children find themselves facing child-care-related challenges, which can center around affordability, availability or even quality of care. For many, these struggles bleed into their work lives.

Sacrifices Must Be Made

The Center for American Progress analyzed recent data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health and found that nearly two million parents of children age 5 and under had to make significant career sacrifices in the past year due to child care issues.

The survey, which was conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, asked participants, “During the past 12 months, did you or anyone in the family have to quit a job, not take a job or greatly change your job because of problems with child care for this child?”

Results weren’t broken down to specify which of the 1,925,865 individuals who responded “yes” left the workforce to become stay-at-home parents and which turned down job opportunities or had to make adjustments, such as reducing their hours.

However, the data did indicate how many of those parents came from each state and the District of Columbia. California had the largest number of parents who claimed child care problems resulted in work sacrifices (197,781). Texas (165,924) and New York (123,142) rounded out the top three states.

Parental Career Sacrifices Impacted by Child Care Struggles
Kristy Gaunt – The Penny Hoarder

The fewest number of affected parents (2,056) came from Vermont. Wyoming (3,227) and Delaware (3,264) rounded out the bottom three states.

Potential Legislation for This Nationwide Problem

Last week four Congress members introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, according to a recent Working Mother article.

A fact sheet says this proposed bill would ensure families who make less than 150% of their state’s median income would not pay more than 7% of their earnings on child care.

The bill would also support “universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year-olds” and would improve training and pay for child care workers.

I, for one, will be watching to see whether support for this new bill gains steam. Dealing with child care should not have to be a scary thing.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She is a single mother of one and is fortunate that her own mother saves her from having to put her daughter in day care just yet.