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Childcare is a Parent Tax

The high costs and lack of proximity to quality childcare make it a significant employment roadblock, and not just Memphians experiencing poverty. At least 55% of working parents in Shelby County have experienced employment challenges due to inadequate childcare. Expectant mothers race to get on daycare waiting lists as soon as they confirm their pregnancies in order to have a chance for an opening to be available when they return from maternity leave. Many do not remain in the workforce because the cost of childcare outweighs their income or because childcare is simply unavailable due to travel distances or the shift they work.

State-mandated classroom ratios, a competitive hiring market, and high turnover rates have made childcare expensive to operate. Unbelievably, annual costs for quality childcare are equivalent to tuition for a bachelor’s degree program from state universities! This is a cost many new parents are unprepared to absorb, especially for those with fewer financial resources.

Financing to Support Growing Families

The conversation around childcare reached a fever pitch during the pandemic when school closures put an added strain on the system making the cost and access to childcare a concern for nearly all families, regardless of their financial resources. However, the system has never been designed to support families experiencing poverty and those who work non-traditional hours, such as a third shift at a warehouse.

While vouchers are available for families who qualify, they seldom cover the full cost of childcare services. This disincentivizes care providers and puts them in a position to restrict the spots available for families using vouchers or require the remaining fees to be paid by the family, which can be prohibitive for those experiencing poverty.

Programs like The Excel Center have risen to meet this need by offering onsite childcare to students free of charge. By providing a safe and nurturing environment for children up to age 5, The Excel Center is providing its students with the support they need to succeed and ultimately provide a better life for their families.

Childcare is a Parent Tax