Affordable Child Care and Preschool Are Critical Supports for a Changing US Workforce

March 26, 2013

Last week, the CBP and the Women’s Foundation of California jointly released a report showing that women are not sharing equally in the state’s emerging economic recovery and that recent cuts to key public services and systems threaten pathways to economic opportunity for women — especially low-income women. One of the report’s major points is the deep reduction made to state funding for child care and preschool programs in the past several years. State policymakers have cut annual funding for subsidized child care and preschool programs by more than $900 million since 2007-08, resulting in the elimination of more than 110,000 child care and preschool slots. At a joint hearing of the Assembly Budget Subcommittees on Health and Human Services and Education Finance last Wednesday, we highlighted these cuts while discussing the importance of child care and preschool programs for low-income families.

Prioritizing support for child care and preschool programs is especially critical in light of the changing nature of the US workforce — in particular, the large number of mothers of young children entering the labor force in recent decades. As discussed in our testimony at last week’s joint hearing, the share of women working or looking for work that have children age 5 or under has risen substantially since 1975, from 39.0 percent to 64.2 percent — an increase of nearly two-thirds. Additionally, in 2010, more than 30 percent of women in the workforce with young children were single mothers, meaning that the stakes of creating economic opportunity for women are as large as ever.

Subsidized child care and preschool programs are especially important for low-income women, given that child care is one of the most expensive items in a household budget. In 2011, in Los Angeles County, full-time care for an infant in a child care center was, on average, $11,499 annually. When women struggle to afford child care, it presents one additional barrier to securing employment.

Low-income women who do have access to child care assistance have a greater chance of maintaining employment, increasing earning potential, and becoming financially independent. Boosting state support for child care and preschool is a prime example of the kind of strategic public investments that can support women’s economic advancement and security. Policy choices made today will determine whether we work toward widely shared prosperity and healthy families over the long-term.

— Kristin Schumacher

New CBP Report: Investing in Women’s Career Advancement and Economic Security

March 20, 2013

The CBP yesterday released a new report showing that almost four years since the official end of the Great Recession, the impact of the downturn is still acutely felt among women — especially low-income women — in California. Released in partnership with the Women’s Foundation of California, A Fair Chance: Why California Should Invest in Economic Opportunity for Women and Their Families shows that California’s women have not shared equally in the state’s emerging recovery. In addition, the report highlights how budget cuts made in recent years continue to cloud the economic outlook for women and have weakened services and supports that foster their economic security.

The report finds that:

  • Men’s and women’s employment rates have gone in opposite directions during the past two years. Between December 2010 and December 2012, the employment rate for California men increased by 1.7 percentage points (from 79.4 percent to 81.1 percent), while decreasing by eight-tenths (0.8) of a percentage point for women (from 65.3 percent to 64.5 percent).
  • Local government employment — long a jobs mainstay for California’s women — has declined over the past four years and continued to trend lower throughout 2012, showing the lasting effect on women’s employment of the deep budget cuts made in recent years. Local government employment includes jobs with K-12 public schools, community colleges, and cities and counties.
  • Women account for more than two-thirds of a huge drop in California community college enrollment, which declined by more than 300,000 students between 2007-08 and 2011-12. This means women have less access to education and training that lead to immediate employment or to a four-year degree program. In addition, women’s enrollment at the University of California and California State University has lagged that for men since 2007.

  • Amid a weak job market and growing poverty, state policymakers have made significant cuts across a range of programs and services that help women find and keep work and provide for their families.  These included steep reductions to child care and preschool funding — causing the elimination of more than 100,000 slots — as well as to welfare-to-work services and cash assistance provided through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Program.

The report was featured yesterday at a Capitol briefing for legislators and their staffs and received coverage from the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Business Journal, Inland News Today, and other outlets across the state. You can read the full report here and an executive summary of the report here.

— Steven Bliss

Falling Behind

February 2, 2012

A new CBP report, Falling Behind: The Impact of the Great Recession and the Budget Crisis on California’s Women and Their Families, looks at the economic downturn’s effect on the state’s women, especially low-income women and single mothers.

The report shows that the budget crisis has resulted in severe cuts to supports for families as well as to programs that help women prepare for, find, and keep employment. These include major spending reductions to CalWORKs as well as to child care, Medi-Cal, in-home care, and postsecondary education. The report also shows that these cuts have come amid an economic downturn that has been hard on California’s women, especially single mothers.

The report finds that:

  • Employment and earnings among single mothers have dropped significantly during the economic downturn. In just three years – from 2007 to 2010 – the share of single mothers with jobs fell by more than 10 percentage points to 59 percent, its lowest point in almost 15 years, while the percentage of single-mother families living in poverty jumped to 36 percent.
  • The state cut a total of more than $3 billion from CalWORKs between 2008-09 and 2011-12, equal to about $3,000 for each of the 1.1 million children in the program.
  • The state has cut child care and preschool funding by a total of $1.5 billion over the past three years, eliminating services for tens of thousands of children – including 35,000 children in the current year alone.
  • Since 2007-08, state support for community colleges has dropped by almost one-fifth. Community college enrollment has dropped by almost 130,000 during this period, with women accounting for more than 80 percent of the decline.

Support for Falling Behind was provided by a grant from the Women’s Foundation of California. You can read the full report here and an executive summary of the report here.

— Steven Bliss


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