Without a doubt, chocolate, flowers, and breakfast in bed are nice. But, I’m willing to bet that they’re not the topics on the mind of most moms, day-in and day-out. Instead, amid the chaos of getting their children to child care on time, making sure the grocery shopping is taken care of, and ensuring they can pay this month’s bills, moms are wondering:
Are my children safe?
Is my child learning?
Will I be able to afford child care this month?
What if I can’t make ends meet?
Yet many moms aren’t always able to provide reassuring answers to these questions because they don’t receive the support they need. Seven out of ten mothers are in the workforce today, some working part time, but many working full-time. And the income they earn is crucial to supporting their families. In fact, in 2015, in more than two out of five (42 percent) families, mothers were the sole or primary breadwinners. In another 22 percent of families, moms were co-breadwinners, bringing in between 25 percent and 49 percent of earnings. Without child care, this wouldn’t be possible.
Unfortunately, it’s still too expensive for many working families. On average, families in the U.S. who pay for child care spend approximately 7 percent of their income on child care. Families living below the poverty line who pay for care spend an average of 30 percent of their income on child care, and this figure takes subsidies and federal assistance into consideration.
Most mothers do not receive help with these child care costs. And without help, they often cannot afford child care, making it impossible for many moms—particularly single moms—to work. Don’t forget, also, that these moms are not just struggling to afford child care—they and their children need health care, housing, food, and transportation, among other necessities as well, in order to survive, let alone thrive. And these supports are currently under threat.
It’s not just the moms trying afford child care that we should acknowledge on Mother’s Day, but also the many child care providers who are moms themselves. Nearly 95 percent of the child care workforce is female. But these workers are not paid fairly for their critically important work. Child care providers make just $11.02 per hour on average. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of child care teaching staff with at least one child 18 or younger report accessing one or more public support programs in the previous three years.
So this year, on top of a phone call to all the people in life who mothered you, call your member of Congress and Senators and ask them to prioritize child care this Mother’s Day. Let them know that high-quality, affordable child care for everyone who needs it that also supports providers would be one of the greatest Mother’s Day gifts of all.