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Investments in Child Care Help Moms

This blog post is a part of NWLC’s Mother’s Day 2012 blog series. For all our Mother’s Day posts, please click here.

As mothers across the country celebrate Mother’s Day with their children this Sunday, many will be enjoying their time together with their daughters and sons. But many mothers who have young children and work outside the home will be looking ahead to the work week with trepidation, worrying about their child care arrangements.

Some mothers will be fortunate enough to have grandparents or relatives available and willing to provide child care—just like my brother and sister, who have children ranging in ages from 3 to 14, are able to rely on our Mom and Dad to provide care and after-school pick-ups and drop-offs. Some mothers earn enough to afford high-quality, dependable child care in a center or family child care home, where their children receive plenty of attention, nurturing, support, and opportunities to learn. And some mothers are able to receive child care assistance to help them afford the care they want for their children and that they need to work and to have peace of mind while at work.

Yet, many other mothers do not have any good child care options. In many cases, grandparents and relatives live far away, have to work themselves, or are not available to provide care for other reasons. Mothers often are not able to find conveniently located, high-quality child care with slots available, or are not able to find child care that covers their work hours—particularly if they work hours other than the traditional 9am to 5pm. Or they may find a terrific child care program, but are not able to afford it.

And, in many cases, mothers, even if they are struggling financially, are unable to receive child care assistance to help pay for care. Many states set restrictive eligibility criteria or place eligible families on long waiting lists for child care assistance. Just one in six children eligible for federal child care assistance receives it, according to the most recent data—and the unmet need is likely growing as the number of children receiving child care assistance declines and the number of low-income families increases.

The National Women’s Law Center is working to address this unmet need by advocating for additional investments in expanding the supply of high-quality care and helping more mothers afford high-quality care. NWLC gathers and shares research and data and collaborates with national, state, and local advocates to illustrate existing gaps and demonstrate the difference affordable, high-quality child care makes to women and their families.

Mother’s Day is a time when we think of what we can do for our moms after all they’ve done for us. Supporting child care investments is one way we can help mothers who are doing everything they can to juggle work and family and ensure the best for their children.