Multiple Crises Threaten Availability of Quality Child Care
Some parents feel the decision of whether to have children is a tough one to make. An even tougher question is if you do decide to have them where to send them for child care once the time comes. The U.S. child care system continues to experience multiple crises, with families finding it difficult to locate reliable, affordable child care.
Before the pandemic, the number of child care providers in the U.S. was already declining. Three years later and the problem is worse. Between December 2019 and March 2021, over 8,800 child care centers closed, and almost 7,000 licensed family child care programs ended.
And then there’s the cost. Child care for an infant in a licensed center now exceeds annual in-state tuition at public universities in 34 states and is the most expensive household expense nationwide, costing families even more than housing. Over 50 percent of families spend more than 20 percent of their household income on child care.
And even though parents are shelling out thousands of dollars per year for child care, regulation and oversight of child care facilities is sorely lacking. Serious inconsistencies in licensing, enforcement, training, and staffing have created dangerous situations where thousands of kids are injured each year – some fatally – while in the care of others.
Safety Issues Persist in Day Care Options
There are an estimated 12.8 million children under the age of six in child care in the United States. And although the cost is staggering, money means nothing if your child doesn’t come home safely at day’s end. Consider this: we keep far better statistics on pro sports in America than on deaths and injuries in child care settings. Regulations and reporting vary from state to state, and no federal reporting requirements exist for child care injuries and fatalities.
In tandem with the existing crises of soaring prices and lack of quality care, women will continue to bear the burden of finding safe child care for their children. From 2020 to 2021, mothers took on the majority of child care responsibilities, spending an average of 7.1 hours per day caring for their children, in addition to their jobs, compared to 4.9 hours for fathers.
What Can You Do to Keep Your Child Safe?
Years of low wages and lack of benefits have resulted in severe staffing shortages for child care programs. And many child care providers that temporarily closed during the pandemic, or had to lay off staff members, have not had the financial resources to reopen. Some that remain struggle to provide a safe, healthy environment.
If you’re trying to find a quality, licensed day care for your child, here are some tips to help you in your search:
- Start early. No matter what type of services you’re looking for, getting a child into any day care facility often takes time. Use a cost calculator to understand better how much you may pay for child care.
- Research your providers. Talk to referral agencies and ask about licensing requirements, complaints, violations, financial assistance programs, and more.
- Visit and ask questions. Ask about adult-to-child ratios, group size, caregiver qualifications, turnover, and accreditation.
- Stay involved. You and the caregivers are partners now. Remain active in your child’s life at day care and consistently check in with the day care providers.
Has Something Happened to Your Family? Contact Us Today.
No parent wants to think of something happening to their child. Especially in a place that should provide a safe haven for care. But as the crisis deepens, unfortunately, accidents, injuries and inadequate care within day care centers continue to make headlines. If, heaven forbid, anything has happened to your child and you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.