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Child care, a critical service for families, remains inaccessible for many across the U.S.


For many American families, child care is a necessity. In 2019, there were 73 million children in the U.S., which is about 22% of the U.S. population.

But child care can be prohibitively expensive. The average cost is about $10,000 a year per child, according to the Treasury Department. This often forces parents to make a decision: pay for child care or quit their job.

The result is that many parents — mothers, mostly — choose to get out of the workforce. Since the pandemic began, about one-thirdof all working mothers have scaled back, left their jobs or plan to do so, according to one survey.

Still, staffing shortages plague child care centers throughout the country, in part because of pay. In 2019, the median hourly wage for child care workers in North Carolina was $10.62, and many workers live in poverty.

Potential solutions include systems such as universal preschool, and part of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda is to fund and expand access to child care. As the bill is pared down, however, those provisions may be eliminated.

We sit down with local and national experts to look at the impact of child care on everything from gender roles to the economy.


Kristen Idacavage, director of Kids ‘R’ Kids of Charlotte

Janet Singerman, president and CEO of Child Care Resources Inc., headquartered in Charlotte serving Mecklenburg and surrounding counties

Marcy Whitebook, director emerita of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley

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Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.