Report: Free Child Care Could Remove Barriers for Pueblo Families
Monday, October 26, 2020
PUEBLO, Colo. -- A new Colorado Fiscal Institute report on working families in Pueblo, one of Colorado's poorest regions, shows investing in free or affordable child care for kids before they enter school could lift families out of poverty.
Data collected during a regular school year, before the coronavirus pandemic, showed family income increased dramatically for families with 6-year-olds, compared with families with 5-year-olds. Report co-author Chris Stiffler, senior economist with the Institute, said most 6-year-olds are in school during the work week.
"So they have free child care for five days a week in a lot of districts," Stiffler said. "And so suddenly we see that their parents who were only working part time can work at lot more. And they work more, they make more income, and are less likely to be in poverty."
Pueblo workers need at least $14.25 an hour to afford child care, according to the report, but most jobs pay far less. In 2017, the median wage for retail workers was just over $11 an hour. Cashiers earn just $10 hour, and personal-care and food-industry workers earn even less.
Stiffler admits most state and local governments are not currently positioned to help cover child-care costs, in part due to lost revenues from the financial fallout from COVID-19.
He said a combination of low wages and the high cost of quality child care has forced many low-income workers to choose between their career and family. And finding ways to make it easier to access free or affordable child care would unleash a lot of economic potential for struggling families.
"They don't become dependent upon government services; they actually work more. They have less reliance on public assistance, and it can help solve some of the disparities we're seeing between racial equity, and low-wage workers and high-wage workers," Stiffler said.
If Pueblo parents with kids age 2-5 could access free child care, researchers estimate workers would add some $35 million in wages to the local economy, and create some 200 jobs.
In 2017, Pueblo's poverty rate was nearly double the rate statewide, with nearly half of single parents with kids younger than age 6 living in poverty. That rate drops to 32% after kids turn 6.
get more stories like this via email
Congress has signed off on a bill that preserves federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. A legal expert in Wisconsin says it …
Airport service workers rallied in Washington, D.C., Thursday to demand Congress pass legislation ensuring they receive a livable wage with stronger …
Before the pandemic, one in five people in Los Angeles County lacked consistent access to food - and in 2021, one in four low-income families …
Electric vehicles are an environmentally friendly way to get from one place to another, but the lack of charging stations often limits drivers to …
As Americans make end-of-year donations to their favorite causes, those that help children with cancer and their families say these households need …
A labor union representing agricultural workers in Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia says it isn't waiting around for federal immigration reform to …
West Virginia's prison population has ballooned, and formerly incarcerated people face numerous obstacles when they are released. A Charleston-based …
As the year comes to a close, the Sierra Club of Connecticut is looking back on some of its accomplishments and challenges. The group focuses on …