Gone are the days when our modest income can provide enough financial support to afford the escalating cost of child care.
Squeezed state child care budgets at a time when unemployment remains very high are not helping either. Particularly for single mothers and low-income working families with children, a lack of child care support can be a barrier to finding and maintaining work.1
The government has been providing this child care assistance via the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program since 1996. The problem is that this program expired last July, and the financial crunch is now being felt by families all over. Proposals to increase child care can’t push through because state budgets are just too strained.
Blame the economy for that. If TANF or something similar does not get pushed by Congress, we can expect to see supplemental funding for child care dropped by more than $100 million this year.
This is a crisis affecting the people that need them most, especially since child care funding will now depend largely on what a state can afford to dole out. The 17 states that received the most supplemental funding from TANF also tend to have unemployment rates higher than the national average (which currently stands at 8.5%.)
So what can a family do to reduce child care costs? Here’s one idea right off the top of my head: ask for help from friends and family. Pool your resources together and take turns taking care of the kids when someone’s free. If you don’t know anyone to help you out or if your family is too far apart to be able to help out, then it is time for you to expand your social network.
Well, it’s either that or you find some way to earn more money to be able to pay for quality child care services – an option that not everyone can take.