Child care system in crisis: 5 shocking statistics highlight the extent of the problem.

Over 1,000 child care providers across the United States are set to close their facilities or take sick days on Monday to participate in the third annual “Day Without Child Care.” This initiative aims to highlight the crucial role of early learning professionals in the economy and their insufficient compensation.

Yessika Magdaleno, who has been offering child care services in Garden Grove, California, for nearly 23 years, emphasized the financial challenges, stating, “We can’t make it work without more money, bottom line. I’m always told that I should close my doors and try working in a different, more lucrative industry, but I don’t want to do that.”

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, recognition grew that early learning professionals are the backbone of the workforce, enabling essential employees to continue working. To support the sector, a historic $24 billion in relief funding was provided by the federal government, enabling many centers to remain operational and retain their staff. However, this funding expired last fall, leading to challenges for both providers and parents.

While some states have increased child care funding allocations, many have not taken significant steps. An analysis by the National Women’s Law Center revealed a rise in the percentage of families unable to access child care after the federal funding ceased, with 23.1% unable to secure affordable care compared to 17.8% previously.

The workers opting to participate in the day off are drawing attention to the disparities within their profession, exposing the faults in America’s child care system.

Day Without Child Care:Hundreds of providers closed as educators went on strike. Here’s why


The median hourly wage for child care workers in the U.S. is $14.60, reflecting the challenges these professionals face in earning adequate compensation for their crucial work.

Child care workers often earn lower wages due to the age group they work with, leading to what scholars refer to as a “pay penalty.” Poverty rates among early childhood professionals are significantly higher than those among educators teaching K-8 students, highlighting the financial strain they endure.

Women of color, who comprise a substantial portion of the child care workforce, face a heightened pay penalty. Black early educators, for instance, earn $0.78 less per hour on average than their white counterparts, underscoring the racial disparities in compensation.


Approximately one in five families spend $36,000 or more on child care annually, exceeding the average cost of attending a public four-year university or renting a home in the U.S. These expenses pose significant challenges for families, particularly those already facing financial difficulties.

The majority of children whose parents are eligible for subsidies through the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant do not receive support, emphasizing the underfunding of this crucial program.


In certain areas, such as Washington, D.C., single parents spend 75% of their income on infant care, creating an unsustainable financial burden. Even in states with lower costs, such as South Dakota, infant care can account for a significant portion of a single parent’s household income.

High child care expenses often force parents to exit the workforce, leading some to resort to unlicensed providers as a more affordable alternative.

14.4 million

A staggering 14.4 million children aged 5 and under have all available parents in the workforce, necessitating high-quality child care services. This figure represents a significant portion of young children in need of care, illustrating the challenges faced by working families.

The inability to access affordable child care leads many parents to make difficult choices between work and caring for their children. A substantial number of respondents in a recent poll reported missing work due to child care issues, emphasizing the impact of inadequate care options on the workforce.

Child care relief:Billions in funding just expired. Costs are already skyrocketing.

$122 billion

The child care crisis in the U.S. results in a staggering $122 billion loss to the economy annually, affecting parents, businesses, and taxpayers. The lack of affordable child care undermines workforce participation and hinders children’s development, leading to substantial economic losses.

The broken child care system’s primary issue lies in its unaffordability for families and inadequate public funding, according to experts. The temporary nature of public investment exacerbates the problem, with policymakers overlooking the ongoing need for sustainable solutions in child care.

Amidst mounting challenges, child care providers like Kishia Saffold warn of an impending system collapse, underscoring the urgent need for reform.

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