Apr 23, 2024
After a series of lower-paying jobs, Nicole Slemp finally landed one she loved. She was a secretary for Washington’s child services department, a job that came with her own cubicle, and she had a knack for working with families in difficult situations. Slemp expected to return to work after having her son in August. But then she and her husband started looking for child care—and doing the math. The best option would cost about $2,000 a month, with a long wait list, and even the least expensive option would cost around $1,600, still eating up most of Slemp’s salary. Her husband earns about $35 an hour at a hose distribution company. Between them, they earned too much to qualify for government help. “I really didn’t want to quit my job,” says Slemp, 33, who lives in a Seattle suburb. But, she says, she felt like she had no choice. The dilemma is common in the United States, where high-quality child care programs are prohibitively expensive, government assistance is limited, and daycare openings are sometimes hard to find at all. In 2022, more than 1 in 10 young children had a parent who had to quit, turn down or drastically change a job in the previous year because of child care problems. And that burden falls most on mothers, who shoulder more child-rearing responsibilities and are far more likely to leave a job to care for kids. Read the full story.
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