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Child Care Must Be Funded in Washington, D.C.

By: Miriam Edelman

Press Release

WASHINGTON – In March 2024, DCNOW sent a letter to D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser requesting that she fund childcare in her FY2025 budget.

 

Recently, Mayor Bowser released her $21 billion budget. Since D.C. is facing major money problems, she proposed to cut around $500 million to programs. She eliminated the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund, the focus of an Under 3-organized advocacy day that DCNOW leaders and local allies participated in at the John A. Wilson Building (D.C.’s “statehouse and city hall”) on March 27, 2024.

 

DCNOW President Rose Brunache said, "DCNOW is extremely disappointed that Mayor Bowser eliminated the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund from her recently-released budget. We sincerely hope that our D.C. Council allies are able to insert the Fund back into the budget. This Fund has paid more than 80 million dollars to day-care teachers and helps with health benefits. If this fund were to be eliminated, there could be higher day-care prices and fewer teachers. Already, too many people are forced to make the heart-wrenching decision between childcare and other necessities. High-quality and affordable child-care greatly benefits children, their families, workplaces, and the nation’s capital."

 

The following is the text of DCNOW’s letter:

“                                                                                  March 18, 2024

Mayor Muriel Bowser

1340 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Suite 406

Washington, D.C. 20004

 

Dear Mayor Bowser,

 

Thank you for leadership on child care in the District of Columbia. We congratulate your administration for making more D.C. families eligible to pay for child care.[i] We ask you to fully fund child care in your upcoming Fiscal Year 2025 budget. High quality child care is crucial for young children, their working parents, and the District of Columbia as a whole.

 

We are the Washington, D.C., chapter of the National Organization of Women. We have around 800 members who live in Washington, D.C. Many have young children and would greatly benefit from increased, high-quality child care in the nation’s capital.

 

Currently, there is not enough child care for D.C. residents, and many D.C.’s child care centers are not high-quality. According to the Bainum Family Foundation-commissioned Assessing Child Care Access: Measuring Supply, Demand, Quality, and Shortages in the District of Columbia” report of January 2024, the District only can serve 71 percent of children younger than five years old and just 41 percent of D.C.’s infants and toddlers. Just approximately one-third of D.C.’s programs do not meet certain quality standards.[ii]

 

The District of Columbia’s childcare crisis harms every ward, racial, demographic, and income group. It is worse in wards seven and eight and for parents with low-income.[iii] It also harms children who need special services, including nontypical hours and bilingual venues.[iv] 

 

A lack of high-quality childcare yields many different types of negative outcomes. Currently, District families suffer at work because of the absence of child care for children younger than three years old. Since becoming a parent, 52 percent of parents were forced to decrease their regular working hours, 46 percent declined further education or training, 36 percent turned down a job promotion or positive job opportunity, 28 percent quit work, 21 percent received a lower or not as nice job, and 21 percent were fired. These detrimental employment outcomes yields decreased family incomes, business productivity, and D.C. tax revenues. In addition, children suffer due to low quality child care.[v]

 

More child care should be located where people live. As a larger percent of employees work from home, demand for childcare in downtown’s child care centers is likely to decrease. As some still work downtown, there still needs to be some child care venues downtown.[vi] 

 

Childcare in D.C. must be less expensive. Washington, D.C. has among the nation’s highest child care costs. Results of a care.com survey state that families spend an average of $417 per week on child care, equaling almost $22,000 a year. This amount is 85 percent higher than the U.S.’s average. That cost represents a large percent of D.C.’s families’ incomes. While D.C. residents’ 2023 median annual household income is $104,000 (which is higher than the nation’s household median income of $75,580), this value varies by ward from a low of $47,421 in ward eight to a high of $157,057 in Ward three.[vii] Hence, Ward 8 families could spend almost half their income on child care alone.

 

Thank you for considering this request. Investing in child care will help our city and its future.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rose Brunache

President

DCNOW”

 

 

 

 


[i] Office of the State Superintendent of Education. “OSSE Announces Expanded and Improved Access to Child Care Subsidies for DC Families.” November 30, 2023, https://osse.dc.gov/release/osse-announces-expanded-and-improved-access-child-care-subsidies-dc-families-0

[ii] Bainum Family Foundation. “Assessing Child Care Access: Measuring Supply, Demand, Quality, and Shortages in the District of Columbia.” January 2024. https://bainumfdn.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/ChildCareAccessDC_Report_EN_FNL_Jan-2024.pdf

[iii] Under 3. “The High Cost of Unaffordable Child Care: Impacts on the District of Columbia’s Families, Business, and Taxpayers.” March 2024. https://under3dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Child-Care-Economic-Impact-Report-U3DC-2024.pdf

[iv] Bainum Family Foundation. “Assessing Child Care Access: Measuring Supply, Demand, Quality, and Shortages in the District of Columbia.” January 2024. https://bainumfdn.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/ChildCareAccessDC_Report_EN_FNL_Jan-2024.pdf

[v] Under 3. “The High Cost of Unaffordable Child Care: Impacts on the District of Columbia’s Families, Business, and Taxpayers.” March 2024. https://under3dc.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Child-Care-Economic-Impact-Report-U3DC-2024.pdf

[vi] Bainum Family Foundation. “Assessing Child Care Access: Measuring Supply, Demand, Quality, and Shortages in the District of Columbia.” January 2024. https://bainumfdn.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/ChildCareAccessDC_Report_EN_FNL_Jan-2024.pdf

[vii] Bainum Family Foundation. “Assessing Child Care Access: Measuring Supply, Demand, Quality, and Shortages in the District of Columbia.” January 2024. https://bainumfdn.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/ChildCareAccessDC_Report_EN_FNL_Jan-2024.pdf

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