The 21st Show

Child Care Costs; Child Care Worker Pay; Minority Organ Donation

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Pop Up Archive Item: “The High Cost of Child Care” :

In Illinois It costs more on average than an infant a daycare for a year than to pay for in state college tuition and a change in the state’s daycare assistance program makes it even harder for single moms like Shauntay Morrison.

I was working at Wal-Mart and I was making $10 an hour and I didn’t have any babies that is paid. And I was denied child care and I eventually had to quit. So now I don’t have a job have to chose.

I’m sure will also find out why despite the high cost of childcare nearly half of child care providers are paid so little they have to rely on some form of government assistance. Plus the importance of organ donation especially among communities of color.

We just what the minority community understand that they are high on the list for organs but yet they participate at it at a lower level and we just want to see those levels up to the point where. We have. Enough. What is available.

To those in need. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. All that and more coming up today on the 21st.

Thanks. For joining us for the 21st. I’m Scott Camran sitting in one more time here for a Naila budo today and it is true that in Illinois the annual cost of infant care is now higher than a year’s in-state tuition to a four year public college. Also the case in 33 states across the country. It’s also true that Illinois has the highest infant care costs in the country. It’s all according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute. Adding to many parents concerns Illinois changed the eligibility for childcare assistance last year speaking in Springfield last fall. Shauntay Morrison said she’d been eligible for the state’s childcare assistance program until those eligibility requirements were changed and she no longer qualified.

I was working at Wal-Mart and I was making $10 an hour. I would basically have a $600 check so I was paying like 20 hours a day for my just one child which is to be 320 a month without the subsidy Shauntay couldn’t afford to send her daughters to daycare and I didn’t have any babysitters basically and I was denied childcare and I eventually had to quit. So now I don’t have a job and I have to chose and now I’m struggling. I want to work. My children need to know that you have to work to succeed.


You have to have money to live a little later in the show and talk about why despite the high cost of child care many of the people providing that care and so little they rely on some form of government assistance. But first the growing cost of child care. Lisa pyper serves regional vice president of children’s home and AIDS social service agency working with children and families on the line with us here from Bloomington and welcome to the 21st.

It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Yeah I appreciate you taking the time. You know thinking about the child costs have risen in recent years that’s nationwide. But we also see data that shows us that you know pay that wages have remained relatively flat over that time. You know we just heard there from Shauntay from one mother in Illinois from last fall how is this affecting him playing out with the parents that you work with.

It’s a real catch 22 for sure. We are highly committed to providing quality child care for low income and other folks that choose to use our programs. You know on a self-pay basis we’re NACA accredited which means we strive to achieve the highest quality of early child care out there. But my starting teachers are starting not much more than what the young lady talked about making on her job. It’s it’s a horrible catch 22. And then we have families who do literally get a 25 cent an hour raise at their job and then don’t qualify for

assistance so they can’t afford child care because they can’t afford the self-pay rate and they don’t qualify for assistance anymore.

You know there’s some you know almost impossible choices any for faced with having to decide do I keep a job to be able to pay for normal living. Do I give up a job to be able to have help with some or a lower paying job maybe to have affordable childcare or in terms of the short run.

Or do I. Do I purchase food for my kids or pay for my daycare or medicine or any of these other things.

You know some people might take for granted. You wonder too about. We’re talking about the costs here. And what if I’m looking at the data right I think on average it’s about a thousand dollars a month on average for sort of a middle income family and that can arrange a little bit higher a little lower depending on the family but that’s over $12000 a year in daycare expenses and that’s for one child.

A lot of families have more than one child. Yeah you can go to Illinois State University western Illinois southern Illinois these universities and pay your tuition and fees and have it be less money than than that cost. So it is it is a very large cost and I and I met some of your listeners may be wondering where does all that money go if you’re not paying your teachers. So I mean I’d be happy to talk about that.

If you’d like you know why don’t we go to them because it is quite a chunk of change that we’re talking about. So where does it want to go.

OK. So some of that goes to pay for the teachers. And then you know their benefits on top of their salary. A lot of it goes to pay for buildings. You have to have a nice building a safe building that meets licensing standards and is safe for children to play in. You need to have outdoor play space in the way of a safe playground that meets licensing standards. You need to have food for the kids for breakfast and two snacks a day. You need to buy milk. You need to buy formula. You need to have a washer and dryer so you can wash all the bibs and all the cot sheets then you need the cots for the naps you need the cribs

for the naps you need new mattresses sometimes curtains for the windows light bulbs for the you know for the lighting. And we haven’t even gotten into supplies and equipment for the can get a lot of the infrastructure.

But it’s yeah it’s incredibly the fixed costs to run a center that’s open close to 12 hours a day. It’s very large. And then when you have eight kids in a classroom playing with toys which is what we want him to do. Books get ripped toys get broken things get a little bicycles get worn out and they waste periodically. We we at children’s home at my center charge right in the middle that you said I mean and that is the metal you can. There’s a few centers that charge less and quite a few that charge the for profit centers that charge substantially even more than that. You’re up in the more like

$15000 and over a year your costs. And we’re not making any money. I mean we are not for profit. We have to get help from the local United Way. We have to write grants to some of our great business partners like State Farm country companies Bridgestone Firestone to get grants to help support because we’re not making any money we’re losing money on what the state is paying us to provide quality child care to our kids.

And even in that middle range there you know this is an issue and I think parents you know I certainly know this face quite a bit. Just looking at some of these costs and trying to figure out some things here but I mean this issue has broader impact I mean are you able to explain a little about why access to early childhood care and education is so important. You know even beyond that parents.

Oh absolutely. I mean it’s important to families obviously because we all want our children our grandchildren our nieces and nephews to be you know healthy and happy and safe and well cared for. Every parent who goes to work that’s their biggest fear. You know what am I going to do for good child care. I mean that hasn’t changed since I had young children. Quite a few years ago. But here’s how it’s important to society. Every dollar that we spend today on quality child care for our kids whether they’re at risk or middle class or any child. OK. Saves us $7 in future costs for that child. So that in the

future that child might not need special education that child might not end up getting in trouble and have behavior issues in need ADHD medicine. So the research has shown over a propensity of time that money invested in early childhood gets you a 700 percent increase in your value there in your value added.

So these children then are less dependent on societal resources going forward they’re more self-dependent you know they can take care of themselves they’re independent they do better in school they do better at home they’re better adjusted and that helps everybody in society not just the families where these kids are living under those parents and families.

Well also here in the studio is Elizabeth powers with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs here at the University of Illinois also an affiliate with the family Resiliency Center. Thanks for coming in. Nice to have you here. So Professor power the cost of health care in Illinois. You know it’s I think the eighth highest in the country right now child care. Yes. Yeah. So why is Illinois. Hi ROMANS It’s just the high demand and prices in Chicago or is this more to it.

Yeah I mean most of the population most of the children are in Chicago and there’s a wide range of prices around the state. But bulk of people are in a urban area with higher cost with higher costs. And as Lisa pointed out you know rental costs are a lot of center care costs just the facilities themselves the buildings and the structures things yes. Just paying for all that space in a compact area is difficult can be tough to do.

Looking then this is for the help that is available what resources are available. There are some of the state level there are some on the federal level. Can you kind of walk us through just briefly what what is available to parents in terms of assistance.

Sure. The main source services at the federal level the child care tax credits. But the main source of assistance for people who are really struggling people in lower wage jobs is the state’s childcare assistance program which is state and federal funded program. But the policy is dominated by state decisions.

And so what we saw we heard from Anthony earlier talking about the eligibility requirements change and sort of left her off and just having you know Lisa talked about having a 10 cent 20 some 30 some 50 cent difference in pay. So now you no longer qualify for these things. How has that changed in recent years.

ELEANOR HALL It’s been changing over time to become less generous. So in 2009 the income threshold was at 200 percent of the federal poverty line which is about $58000 for a family of two and it had been at that level for quite a while since its inception then in 2013 it was dropped to what had 85 percent of the federal poverty line. And effective in. So there are two things that happened in the fall of 2015. One is that through administrative rule changes the the

program was dramatically reduced by cutting the threshold for income to just one half of the federal poverty line and that that many people looking at not getting childcare assistance because even people making minimum wage working full time were way way above that limit of half of the federal poverty line. So a lot of people were being discontinued from that program at that time. And in

response to an outcry about that crisis it was creating the rules were changed again. It was put back to the income limit was put back two hundred eighty five percent of the federal poverty line which is about $54000 for a family of two. For people who would be continuing in the program. But for people who have been out of the program as little as 30 days the the income level was dropped to one hundred sixty two percent which is about forty seven thousand dollars for a family of two. So to sum everything

up since 2009 the amount of income you could have and qualify for childcare assistance has dropped by nearly 20 percent.

So when you would talk about a family of two is that a family with two children or a family income actually.

Almost everyone on the child care program at this point is in a single parent household. Female headed household with one or two children. So what I say to the family of two. It’s a parent’s most appropriate to think of a mother as single mother and her child.

And then you get in some way at that level of income that you’re going to some of those difficult choices at least I was talking about the suppliers talking about earlier. Where do you get the message you’re on on Facebook from Julie she says Last week I had to work two eight hour days and a four hour day. I had to get childcare for my 18 year old autistic daughter. It cost me more than I made in the 20 hours I worked. She was in between summer camp and the start of school. I’m lucky it was just one week or it would not pay for me to work. I have a very hard time finding good childcare at any price. I mean that part of the issue of you know summertime and Lisa Piper let me come back to you with the children’s home there in Bloomington. I mean summertime can be tough for parents.

It’s hard. It’s hard because a lot of places home don’t offer summer time care. It’s hard if you’ve got kids of different ages. I’ve seen families because of age requirements have to take their kids to two different places because one only covers younger kids and one only covers school aged kids and that’s all they’re adding on time onto their day they’re paying tuition at two different places. You know it can be really tough summer spots usually go so quickly at facilities that offer summertime care and then you know if the family didn’t happen to know of the date and was able to get their

application in right away they might be left with a horrible choice of leaving pretty young kids home alone for the summer there’s not a family nearby.

So we’ve talked and we’ve kind of seen but I think the problem here and help people understand you know what what these costs look like some of the difficult choices that face parents since the shift that we’ve seen in recent years particularly in Illinois but also across the country with. You know diminished amounts of support available. So what what are some options I mean what do we do and I guess a look at Professor powers here and we’ve heard some talk about a 10 percent cap in terms of income and the amount of money you pay towards daycare. I think the we heard the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton talk about that that’s come up before from other places. What can. What options are out there. Well.

There are there are plenty of options. The problem in this day is funding the option to state budget. Lack of. Yeah I mean if we’re talking about sort of best practices about 15 years ago the state began in earnest effort to provide universal preschool. So moving beyond Center care or family care you know moving beyond just caregiving to education to having an education program for all children is that yes making it available to everybody available to everybody making

it free to most people so that they would be attracted to it and that sometimes benefits that we talked about earlier where that increases in terms of societal benefit and the use of tax dollars over the long term that really changes things there.

Well Lisa pyper served as a regional vice president of children’s home and aid and I’m sorry your clock is ticking down here mostly in front of me. Unlike bluid Elizabeth powers of government public affairs at the University of Illinois I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. You’re welcome. Good as are we have naturally we switch our focus from the parents to the providers of child care. We touched on this just a few minutes ago but we’re expand a little bit more into what that means stay with us. I’m Scott Cameron and this is the 21st.


I’ll. Welcome back to the 21st we’ve been talking here about the price of childcare being high.

You might think that means child care workers get paid fairly well but that as we heard is not at all the case. A recent report from the University of California Berkeley found that nearly half of all childcare workers in Illinois and across the country rely on some form of government assistance. Joining us now on line from California to talk about the fine is Marcy white Brooke. She’s the director of the Center for the study of child care employment at the University of California Berkeley. Marcy thanks for talking with us. Sure glad to. And also on the line here Maria Whalen president and CEO of Illinois Action for Children coming to us here on the line from Chicago. Maria welcome to the 21st. Thank you so much. So Marcy let’s just start with you with some of the numbers and things like a little bit like we talked about earlier with the parents and such but how much do

child workers child care workers make on average.

Well health care workers make wages generally wherever they are. In Illinois the median hourly wage for health care worker in the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015 with ten fifty an hour for preschool teachers. It was somewhat higher. It was $13 and 79 cents an hour. But what you can’t really tell from those overall Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers is how there’s great variation with in early childhood based on the setting in which you work as a funding

source for that setting. So if you work in a humble setting or a center based the ages of children you work with. And I ran it. Ironically disturbingly that even if you have the same qualifications let’s say you have a bachelor’s degree if you’re working with infants toddlers and childcare center you’re going to make substantially less than that if you’re working in a state funded pre-K program. So there’s a very rational system that isn’t based on people’s qualifications but it’s really based on the age of children.

What can you do it seems like maybe we should define our terms a little bit too we’re talking here about you know child care child care workers care providers.

What do we make you give us the broad spectrum what we you always say Chalker really interesting because I think when it I always think about when you say child care worker or a childcare provider early child a teacher it’s kind of like a Rorschach test. And then if you ask people they have very different things in mind. Because some people are thinking oh I got the care worker I think of someone taking care of children in her own home like in the license home. Some people might think of someone they would call a baby sitter. Someone like think of someone working in a child care center who wouldn’t maybe not call yourself a child care worker but would call herself and I say her because the vast majority of people in this work are women.

That it should be that way but it is a would call herself a teacher. If you look at the science of child development and the Institute of Medicine the National Academy of Sciences came out with a report a couple of years ago that made this point very strongly. They’re basically saying the nature of learning for young children occurs wherever children are so from the moment they’re born until they enter school there who’s ever taking care of them is also facilitating their learning.

Zorbing everything. That’s right.

And there’s you know better and worse ways to help ensure that you’re optimizing the potential of that learning. So you know we tend to use the term early educator to say anybody who has the responsibility for the care and education of young children there’s 2 million people in the United States who. That is their paid employment. That being said you know the systems are set up very differently and we have programs that were set up primarily to care for kids and we have more programs like preschool that we think of as education. But if we were really to pay attention to what we know about children’s development we would understand that care and education

are an adult construct a child doesn’t go and being cared for now by being educated now it’s all one and the same. So we really look at everybody who’s doing this if they’re paid work.

And so we’re talking in-home care we’re talking preschools we’re talking daycare centers we’re talking we’re really running a broad broad spectrum here.

And I mean you wrote this in particular.

But yes. And what are you talking about me or would we get a Facebook comment from Tabitha and she says she’s a child care worker a parent of a child. Where is the child where is where she works the same for private daycare. She says for my responsibilities in education I don’t think I am fairly compensated if I did not work there and get a discount. I wouldn’t be able to afford to send my child there this time together. We talked about earlier with we’re talking about now but I mean Marcy why why are wages so low for childcare workers.

Well we have a terrible situation in our country where we are really we think about early childhood as a way to help people out of poverty but actually for many many people the early childhood system if you’re working in it actually is a pathway to poverty and for many parents the costs for early childhood really puts them at you know an extreme economic risk. I think that reason if you step back from that there’s sort of two different reasons. One reason is what it cost. So as I think the earlier speaker said very clearly like there are a lot of costs besides just the labor costs and early childhood that you know people have to be like for the

building and for you know energy to heat the building or cool the building. And those things are sort of fixed costs that go up and people need to respond to them. But the major cost in early trials of course is the labor and you have when children are younger you need more adults to care for them and let’s say you do an elementary school so you could have a classroom with one teacher and 20 children in second grade. You can’t do that with three year olds or four year olds or babies you need you know probably no more than three or four children to a teacher. So part of it is just it’s a very labor intensive industry. And so you need either you’re paying a

lot of people. So if you know even if you for example were to say in preschool I’m going to spend the same amount per child as I do for a garden or for first grade. If you have more teachers than that preschool program that amount for children is going to not go as far and therefore people are going to be paid less. But I think there’s another piece to it that people I think often don’t. I mean I think they think about it when they’re trying to pay the bills. But I think it is about the way we’ve organized early trust in the United States. You know we made a decision as a society as a country you know over 100 years ago

that we believed in public education for children starting from kindergarten. You know in most states in kindergarten going up to 12th grade. And then we don’t. That is a public good. We as a society share the burden of that cost. So we never say to a parent or to a second grader you’re sorry you can’t come to this. You can’t go to school. We don’t have a room for you. We have no room for you in the second grade because your parents can’t afford it.

If that is obvious that you have to fire you it has to be there right.

In early childhood without even saying you have to be there but don’t say you want your parent choose their child to be there. That happens all the time where children are turned away because they’re not. There’s not enough there are enough there’s not enough care or they qualify for a spot but it’s oversubscribed in terms of subsidized spots where parents have to make choices like I’d like to send my you know child you know like the woman who wrote in on Facebook if she didn’t have a subsidy from her employer if she were just going to try and enter you know with her pay get into that center she couldn’t afford it. So you know we really have not defined

even that we now know the science says that learning begins at birth and we you know here all the time how important early education is we still have not defined it as you know a public good. So parents are the you know paying the bulk of the cost. And as long as we’re linking what parents pay and what people earn without some kind of third party payer in the mix of that. I think parents are going to be very burdened by the cost and the people doing the work are going to have their wages depressed.

And we talked earlier and you hit on it again here just the importance that mounting evidence the just how important those early childhood years are when it comes to children successfully later in life. Are other consequences too low pay and are the consequences to this that the difference that you’ve laid out there when it comes to how society views early childhood education.

Yes I think the consequences to the low pay. You know in a general way is that where it’s very hard to attract people who’ve invested in their education and training in the early field and keep them for an extended period of time. So right off the bat we’re sort of we’re sort of key we’re making this an unattractive job for many people but there are also many people doing this work. And for those people there’s a couple of consequences when you have low pay you have high turnover in place.

So for children that’s problematic because particularly very young children need to feel very securely attached to the people who they spend their days when in order to make them feel free you know and develop trust and trust to go out and explore their environment.

So when you have sort of constantly changing cast of characters which are not all programs of the many programs have you know that often happens that’s disruptive to children. It’s also and some of the research we’ve done you know years ago actually showed that in programs with higher turnover that was much lower quality and you could see the effects on the children.

But it also affects programs ability to improve their quality and sustain their quality. So you think of any business anybody who’s had a job where they work with other people. When people leave that kind of growth the organization in disarray then takes a while for people to get back you know again to sort of focus on the you know on whatever they were.

They’re more aspirational goals.

And so we also see that as we’re trying to improve programs if they don’t have a stable workforce that you know affects the quality and the ability to improve quality.

There’s another consequence which is we have learned now and the National Academy of Sciences report that I referenced you know makes this point very clearly we need to make sure we have people who have the essential foundational knowledge about children and how children learn but don’t well-being is a very important contributor to the types of interactions that adults parents and teachers engage in with their children. And so when people are very stressed and particularly the kinds of stresses that are associated with economic insecurity and poverty that makes it much

harder for them to you know it either makes it harder for them to sort of provide the interactions that children need or it just takes an enormous toll on them personally.

So and sometimes on the child too. I don’t mean to cause I just try and time I do want to bring Maria Walen into the conversation her presidency of little action for children up there in Chicago. And Maria Marcis talking a lot about some of the looking at the national picture and what not is what she’s saying or follow the national trend is what we see in Illinois follow the national trends that she’s describing.

Well I think absolutely. I think that that you know just a couple on Marcy’s is certainly been a longtime expert in all things compensation related. But I would just underscore that we’re talking about we’re talking about women. We’re talking about a female workforce we’re talking about a workforce that overwhelmingly relies on public benefits to survive. We are talking about turnover and we’re talking about brain science and brain development. Young children their brains are developing faster and at more critical places than any other time in their

lives. Marcy’s absolutely right.

In terms of attachment and what it takes for children to be healthy happy and emotionally secure. And yet we have in Illinois according to the recently released Illinois salary and staffing survey of licensed child care facilities we have a turnover rate for teachers in classrooms the teachers in classrooms of almost 30 percent are teacher assistants it’s over 34 percent leaving every year licensed family child care providers. Women who take care of children in their homes in a regulated setting report an average income of just under $15000 a year.

We know that less than half of providers report offering health insurance and only 43 percent report offering any kind of retirement benefit. So data that doesn’t really offer what’s the most important workers being treated as though they don’t matter.

Yeah and it doesn’t bode well for some of the consequences. She had talked about earlier Maria from that experience here. Are there some things that the state is doing well to support those who work in childcare.

Well I think that we that Illinois we we have focused historically a lot on professional development on creating paths with clear pathways. We have a very robust professional development system that really does think about being in the field and growing in the fields coming at it from multiple places and strategy. So I think that that we have done a lot of really excellent work in that area. I think that we we have have done a lot of good work in terms of understanding that at the end of the day child care is both an economic support

and a work support and the child development program. But at the end of the day what we’re talking about here really comes to our failure as a country to do what virtually every other industrialized country has done which is say that if children really matter most. We need to do more than lip service.

And can you tell us an unfortunate is not invested in what we need to invest and we’ve only got about two minutes if you’re unfortunate but would define that a but what needs to happen on a policy level is to start to do that to make sure we have affordable child care while ensuring that child care workers are paid a decent wage.

I mean I think it comes down to what are our national priorities.

We spend you know trillions and trillions of dollars on all sorts of stupid stuff and we spend chump change in terms of what families and children need not only in the area of child care but in many other areas as well. So it comes down to sort of we fundamentally just need to have a really tough serious conversation about what our priorities are and then we need to put our money where our mouth is.

Through mercy and sorry but in 30 to 40 seconds what do you think what do you what needs to happen next.

I would totally concur. I think we have to think about breaking the link between what parents pay for early childhood and that type of early Taussig jobs we provide. And I think we need a major commitment that this is where some of our public money should go and we really make it something that all children can depend on getting a good start.

And we’re so far from that now despite all our rhetoric despite all the rhetoric Well Marcy White Book director of the Center for Study of child care employment in California Berkeley. Maria Weyland presidency of Illinois Action for Children based there in Chicago. Thank you both. Appreciate the conversation today. Thank you. Thank you very much. And coming up next here why there’s a push to encourage more people of color to become organ donors. Stay with us.

On the 21st: We learned what's behind the rising cost of childcare, and discuss why, despite those high costs, child care professionals receive low wages. We also received an update on the Illinois Independent Map Amendment and learned about the need for more minorities to sign up as organ donors.

Story source: WILL