Long Island does not have affordable and adequate child care.
Working mothers and fathers have less child care options than their counterparts in other developed countries. Often, American working mothers must decide between having a successful career and raising their children. Although employer-provided child care has risen, many workplaces still do not offer it.
Abundant, inexpensive child care does not exist in Long Island. One can think of but a handful of local, cheap child care providers. Stony Brook University employees, for instance, have the option of child care for very young children, as do other local higher education institutions. So those working in the white collar academia have the option of relatively affordable child care provided by their employers. Since academics face the cumbersome balance of maintaining the perception by their coworkers as a prolific academic while being a good parent, the existence of on site child care allows them to be near their children.
However, those working in more blue-collar jobs (i.e. those employed by Mc Donald’s and Wal-Mart) do not have the benefit of on site child care. Nor do their jobs enable them to have enough income to attain quality affordable child care. These national corporations heavily employ working class and lower class adults.
Many parents without college education and limited skills work for chain corporations. As observed in the book Nickel and Dimed, national chains such as these employ many but provide few benefits for those who are beyond high school. Parents, who work for Mc Donald’s for instance, have more financial obligations than the belly-ring wearing sixteen year old that spends paychecks on the latest mall fashions.
Working women aconsider safe and affordable child care among the list of necessary offerings by ideal employers. Yet according to Lisa Benenson, editor of Working Mother Magazine, only half of the hundred most family-friendly companies offer on-site child care. Additionally, these child care facilities, which are considered perks offered by companies, are rarely free.
Essentially, affordable child care costs no more than thirty percent of a family’s income. Frequently however, large portions of a working family’s, or a single parent’s, income are gobbled up by the cost of child care services. The averaged cost for parents ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 a year per child for high-quality child care, according to a survey cited in the May 2002 issue of the journal, Women in Higher Education.
The scarcity of good yet affordable child care in this country has led to many single working mothers to encounter financial ruin. According to the journal, Off Our Backs, “Those most harmed by the lack of access to affordable child care are families headed by single mothers. In Washington, D.C., the 2000 census showed that 53% percent of children living in poverty come from single-women headed households.”
The link between poverty and unaffordable child care has led the federal and state governments to begin to subsidize child care at the state level. It’s up to enlightened Long Islanders, and all Americans really, to lobby and vote for affordable, accessible child care.