Affordable Childcare is Crucial in Post-Recession America

We’ve spent a lot of time lately talking up our Midsummer Mixer and how absolutely fun it’s going to be, but we haven’t spent much time talking about who stands to benefit from the proceeds. The Fairfax-San Anselmo Children’s Center is a non-profit dedicated to serving families in Ross Valley. Not only do they offer childcare to families in need, but they also offer counseling, transportation, a nutrition program and even have a sick room so parents can still work if their children are ill.

The need for adequate childcare is more critical than ever. For many parents, the reality is that if there is no affordable childcare available, one parent works reduced hours or doesn’t work at all. This has a ripple effect on the family’s economic viability, which can limit access to nutritious food and sufficient medical care. Moreover, a family that is struggling to make ends meet has less to contribute to economic growth in the way of disposable income. Additionally, absenteeism from work due to issues with childcare costs businesses $3 billion annually.

When childcare is out of reach financially, it is often women who pay the price. Not only do working mothers have to make the difficult decision to reduce their working hours or leave the workforce entirely, but a new study shows that older women are being affected as well. The study found that 9% of retirement-age women are leaving the workforce early to care for their grandchildren (Lumsdaine and Vermeer 2015). This results in decreased IRA and social security benefits- another financial blow to the individual that affects the economy as a whole.

In Marin County, the average yearly cost of enrolling a child in a facility-based daycare is close to $10,000 for pre-K children and nearly $14,000 for infants; more costly than a year’s tuition at a state college. In-home daycare comes close at about $8,500, or $9,500 for infants. For an area with considerable income disparity and as many as 30% of families struggling to make ends meet, the need for affordable care is marked.

In a study published by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Education, 75% of parents surveyed reported that child care was “one of the most important factors in helping working families.” (NACCRRA 2010.) Unlike the many other developed countries where care is at least partially subsidized, the cost for early childhood care falls almost entirely on the individual. Considering the strain placed not only on families, but on the economy as a whole, it may be time for the nation to place more value on quality care for children ages 0-5. In the meantime, places like the Fairfax-San Anselmo Children’s center not only help to lighten that burden, but they offer a wealth of other services that strengthen families and enable them to thrive.


Robin L. Lumsdaine, Stephanie J. C. Vermeer. Retirement Timing of Women and the Role of Care Responsibilities for Grandchildren.Demography, 2015; 52 (2): 433 DOI: 10.1007/s13524-015-0382-5