In a July 31st post to the Huffington Post, Christine Bork discussed the intense struggles faced by so many low-income women to find and keep work and pay for quality childcare. The average cost of full-day care for an infant represents about 41% of the median income for single mothers. Child care costs vary across the nation—from a low of about 27% of median income to a high of about 67%.
What I find even more mind blowing than the post itself are the comments made by Huffington Post readers, many calling on women to stop having children, to get on birth control or have an abortion, and to stop making poor choices. Only one out of the 80 comments supports Ms. Bork’s claims that “as a society, we have to be willing to give people what they need to do their jobs. Helping working moms afford quality child care not only benefits kids, businesses and consumers, but it’s also the right thing to do.”
In today’s day and age, when 72% of single, low-income mothers with children under age 6 are employed, we need to fix our systems of early care and education in order to ensure that all children can receive quality childcare. Telling women to stop having children while ignoring the structural inequalities that keep these women amongst the working poor is ignorant and short-sighted.
Having recently made a career move from the world of reproductive health to early care and education, I am both amused and disheartened to see that anti-abortion activists and those opposed to government assistance for quality childcare share a common argument–that women should stop making bad decisions. There commonality diverges when it comes to their proposed solutions. For the first group, the appropriate response to bad decision making means having a baby, no if ands or buts, and for the second group it means not having a baby .
Low-income working women should not be judged for having children and starting a family. They should have access to quality childcare. We should all be responsible for ensuring that children are well cared for. Quality childcare should not be a luxury in this country and in our state.