New Analysis Shows Investment in Childcare Would Help Bring Latinas Out of Poverty

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This October 21 marks the date when a Latina woman in the United States would have finally managed to earn what a non-Hispanic white male earned in 2020. That is, a Latina must work nearly 23 months to earn what white men earn in 12 months.

More than a year after the debut of the coronavirus pandemic, this reality is even more evident.

The precariousness to which millions of Latinas in the United States are subjected is a multi-layered crisis — from education to systemic racism in the health care system.

However, Democrats have set an October 31 deadline to enact President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, including a childcare plan that expands benefits for working families.

As CNBC explained, the plan called for capping the cost of childcare at 7% of a family’s income if the family earned up to 1.5 times the state median income, but a House committee recently raised it to twice the state median income. Families with lower incomes would pay nothing.

It would also raise wages for daycare workers, 95% of whom are women. The median hourly wage is $10.15 an hour, according to the compensation comparison site Payscale. In 2019, 18.9% of those workers were black women, and 17.9% were Latinas, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center. Many of those jobs were lost during the pandemic.

Childcare or employment? Latinas are between a rock and a hard place

A new survey found that most parents in the U.S. spend 10% or more of their household income on childcare. For low-income families, that figure rises to 30%, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

For many, the cost means not working to care for their kids or using low-quality care.

“Childcare hits at the heart of family economic stability,” said Hannah Matthews, deputy executive director for policy at the Center for Law and Social Policy.

The United States lags far behind many other countries in affordability and accessibility. The United States spends less than 0.5% of its gross domestic product on early childhood education and care, while countries like France, Sweden, and Iceland spend 1% or more.

For Latinas, the situation is even worse.

Between 2014 and 2018, 23% of Latinas lived in poverty, compared with 9% of white men, according to the National Women’s Law Center. For every dollar paid to a white father, Latina mothers receive 45 cents, the organization found. In addition, Latina childcare workers face 50% higher poverty rates than other women working in this sector.

“Women need childcare so they can go back to work and child-care providers need to provide for their own families,” Pesek said.

“It has become really clear the market will not fix childcare.”

In Social Security benefits alone, Latina women would get additional lifetime benefits of $12,000, compared with $8,000 for white women.