Raising Families Together
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Raising healthy children is the most important responsibility of parents, but it is also one of the most important responsibilities of our society. Healthy children become healthier adults, and contribute to the strength of our economy. There is much to be done to ensure that families have the support they need from workplaces and communities so that all children have high-quality care from birth on.
Most modern American families are made up of two-income households, meaning that their children are often left in the care of professionals in centers, schools or in private homes while both parents work. In 2011, approximately 12 million children under the age of 5 spent an average of 35 hours a week in child care. A greater percentage of children under the age of 5 are in child care compared to school-age children, and parents of these children pay an average of $179 a week for care. Child care represents an expensive, yet critical, part of the American family.
The quality of child care is extremely important when one considers that the children who participate in this system the most are also in a critical stage of brain development. Children who experience high-quality child care score higher in academic and cognitive achievement even ten years after their child care has ended.
Working parents need high quality, accessible, and affordable child care options, as well as information to help them make the best possible choices. Some employers recognize the importance of child care to the health of their businesses and local economies, and they provide valuable benefits like paid family leave and paid sick days so that parents can find quality child care or care for their children themselves when necessary. Communities also play a vital role by making sure that standards for child care providers are enforced, and that there are many good options for working parents.
By recognizing that healthy, well-cared for children are an important investment in our economy and local communities, we can help America grow stronger.
- Minnesota’s Parent Aware program allows parents in the state to find high-quality child care programs – a potential model for other state and communities »
- Fact sheets from the National Association of Child Care Resources & Referral Agencies »
- Research from the Center for American Progress about child care and family-friendly workplace policies »
In The News:
- As Child Care Costs Rise, Families Seek Alternatives, The New York Times »
- The Child Care Crisis in America, Parents Magazine »
Did You Know?