Can It Get Any Worse for Working Parents?

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Welcome to the latest edition of Unlocking Your Greatness with Wendy Bjork.  As an international bestselling author, inspirational speaker and guide to others, as well as founder of, it is my mission to help others understand how to make progress forward and live our best lives!


Is the Childcare Crises Causing an Economic Crises?

Millions of families struggle with childcare, and the issue is growing worse. In fact, researchers say inadequate childcare costs America $122 billion annually in lost wages and productivity.

It’s a problem that was present long before the COVID-19 pandemic. But the issue is getting new momentum as proposals to fix it gain traction in Congress.

Here are some of the reasons the childcare industry is breaking down:

1. Unaffordable Childcare

The unaffordability of childcare is a key reason that many parents do not participate in the labor force. For many working families, the price of childcare exceeds the federal affordability benchmark of 7% of family income.

This ratio varies by family income, with low-income households spending far more than the benchmark. But even for middle-income families, the price of center-based child care is high.

This price tag translates into poverty wages for workers, who are often women. Many childcare workers struggle to afford childcare themselves, leading them to seek work outside the field or rely on forms of household assistance such as food stamps. This is a vicious cycle that prevents families from achieving economic security. It also leaves children without two parents in the home and erodes economic mobility for entire generations.

2. Unstable Work Environments

In the United States, many low-wage jobs involve irregular work hours and unstable schedules that can make it hard for workers to plan their lives. Moreover, the volatility of these jobs can undermine their financial security and limit their access to safety net programs such as SNAP and Medicaid.

Researchers have found that working in unstable environments increases the chances of mortality. People who work on a contractual basis and are subject to extreme pressure and minimum rights at their workplace have much higher mortality rates than those working in secure environments.

The second profile labeled Vulnerability-Dominant captures a work condition characterized by a high level of vulnerability (paired with lower levels of general decent work and adequate compensation, values congruence, safe conditions, and the capacity to express rights at work). This work condition has a negative impact on children’s behavior.

3. Low Wages

The wages paid to millions of workers are so low that even working full time they cannot raise their families above the poverty line. These workers, mostly women, often work multiple jobs and struggle to find stable employment. They also receive fewer employer-provided benefits like health insurance, sick leave, and fair scheduling than higher-wage workers.

Millions of these workers are parents, and many are single parents. For parents who earn poverty-level wages or below, childcare costs consume up to 30 percent of their income, forcing them to make impossible choices between caring for their children and earning a living. This is why raising worker wages is so important. It is a civil rights issue. It’s also good economic policy.

4. Unsafe Environments

When childcare workers are exposed to unsafe conditions, they can suffer from stress and physical injuries. This can lead to absenteeism and decreased productivity.

A safe environment is crucial for a child’s well-being and development. Kids who feel safe in their homes and communities tend to have a stronger connection to family, friends and community and are more likely to be engaged in after-school activities and sports.

As a result, they’re more likely to succeed in school and in life. The nation needs to invest in childcare, but the current crisis means that won’t be easy. It will require a comprehensive solution that includes expanding workforce housing and increasing access to healthcare for childcare workers. This will help lower costs and increase availability.

5. Unsafe Food

Unsafe food costs low and middle-income economies more than $122 billion each year in lost productivity, medical expenses and other costs, a World Bank study finds. But many of those costs can be prevented through better food safety management from farm to fork.

In one family’s example, when their day care center closed, their daughters were left to rely on pricey summer camps and other supplemental activities that were costly. They were inconvenient, and with long waitlists. Research shows that mothers, especially those with children younger than 5, experience a disproportionately negative impact from this juggling act.

Efforts to expand workforce housing and health insurance coverage for childcare workers would directly support families and help address this crisis. So would increasing the number of childcare slots. But such proposals would likely have a tough time passing in Congress.

Maybe it’s time to follow the lead of our European and other counterparts.

Many European governments have designed their childcare policies to support certain policy goals, including increasing female workforce participation. In England and Ireland, for example, families pay only a modest share of the cost to enroll their two-year-olds in formal childcare. In the United States, by contrast, parents pay full price and must compete with other families to find a spot. Some governments, such as Japan and England, help their residents pay for preschool if they are unable to afford it.

The most important thing, experts say, is that parents should do what’s right for their children and families. For some, that might mean avoiding formal childcare until their children are ready for it. For others, it might be finding a good mix of childcare and home care. Whatever the choice, parents should look into local options, which are often easily accessible on the internet through a search for “childcare near me” or through municipal websites dedicated to youth and family issues. If the information they find doesn’t provide enough clarity, they can always ask for recommendations and advice. After all, parenting is a lifelong journey.

If there is any support, I can offer in living your best life, feel free to download your copy of 30-Day Blueprint Towards Living Your Best Life or send a message to  Discovering and living by your personalized playbook are important steps we can create together!



As a best selling author, inspirational speaker and Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Wendy Bjork empowers women to see beyond whatever challenges they are navigating.

She inspires them to boldly live in acceptance, live healthy and free as she teaches them to see life in a different way to fulfill their dreams that have been left on the back-burner for far too long.

Her platform is the place for women to begin receiving the support they are seeking as they create their roadmap back to freedom and wellness with Wendy lighting their path.

As a pioneer in advocacy and mentorship, Wendy is leading a global revolution of women walking in purpose and peace as she illumines their path ahead with the light of HOPE:  Harmony, Options, Peace & Empowerment.

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