Skip to main content

What happens to low-income parents.
If you have young children and you can't find someone to take care of them, you can't work. If you don't have a job, how can you pay someone to take care of your children? That's a double bind faced by many low-income parents, thanks to America's lousy childcare funding and policies. Childcare subsidies are supposed to help. They do help, if you can get them. But getting them is not so easy. In Washington, D.C., where the subsidy is so low that only half of childcare providers even accept them, one parent told the Washington Post the process of getting a subsidy is "like having a full-time job." Here's what it looks like for one woman who has, in the past, lost a job because of the amount of time she spent in that process:
Swanson said she had six days to renew her subsidy before it expired and her children lost their spots at Happy Faces child-care center. She’d called the Congress Heights Service Center in April to make an appointment, but she couldn’t get one before June, long after the expiration date. So she found herself in the walk-in line.

Under the subsidy system’s rules, she must “recertify” in person every time something in her life changes — a new baby, a new job, a lost job, different hours on the job, a raise, a new child-care provider. She must recertify now because the semester at UDC, where she is taking classes in child development, is ending and she won’t be back in class until the fall. She’ll need to recertify again in September and bring an official transcript of her new classes.

“They will terminate you like that,” said Swanson, snapping her fingers. She has been terminated twice without warning in the past.

Each time, Swanson must prove that she is poor enough to receive the subsidy and that she is in school, in a training program or working at least 20 hours a week.

This time around, she was rejected because even though a letter from her boss listed her working 30 hours a week, the letter also said she was working "no more than" 30 hours a week, and no more than 30 could in some cases mean less than 20 although it doesn't mean that in this case. Make sense?

The Post's Brigid Schulte reports that, although subsidies are particularly low in Washington, studies have found that the difficulty of getting and keeping them is similar in most states. Nationwide, just one in six eligible children is covered by the subsidy program, leaving an awful lot of parents with that impossible predicament of needing a job to get childcare but needing childcare to get a job. Then of course there's the kicker—poor women who don't work are stigmatized as mooches or leeches, and poor women who are forced to leave their kids in bad situations while they go to work are stigmatized as bad mothers. America's rotten childcare system is a sign of a nation whose policymakers don't care much about either children's safety or women's ability to make a decent living.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu May 16, 2013 at 12:33 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site