The child-care crisis in the U.S. is a complex issue with various factors at play. One of the major problems is the sky-high cost of child-care programs, which makes it tough for many families to find affordable and quality care for their kids. In a study conducted by Care.com, 72% of parents report spending 10% or more of their income on childcare. This is in stark contrast to an estimate from the Department of Health and Human Services, which found childcare is affordable for families if it costs households no more than 7% of their income. This not only burdens individual families but the entire economy. In fact, according to a report by Ready Nation, lack of adequate care for children under the age of three costs the country $122 billion each year in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.
There’s also a labor shortage issue. According to a study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for child-care workers in May 2022 was only $14.22 per hour or $ 29,570 per year. This makes child-care wages the 16th lowest out of 753 occupations. Because of the wage deficit, child-care workers are often under-educated for their positions, and there is a very high rate of turnover, making it hard for child-care centers to supply reliable and consistent programming.
The lack of affordable access to child care has been persistent in the U.S. for many years, and it’s about to get worse. COVID-era relief funds, provided to help child-care centers meet rising demand during the pandemic, are set to expire in 2024. This lack of funding leaves child-care centers with the choice to raise prices, cut staff, or close altogether. While it will take serious policy change to fix this crisis, there are things YMCAs and other organizations can do to help manage the crisis and relieve stress for employees, parents, and children alike.
How Organizations Can Help Mitigate the Child-care Crisis
To help alleviate some of the burden on parents, organizations like YMCAs can make strategic changes to support families. First, by understanding the needs of parents, organizations can boost their registration numbers and make a real difference. In today's gig economy, not all parents have the luxury of working from home or following a standard 9-5 schedule. That's why it's important to schedule programming hours with flexibility and variety in mind. Polling your customer base to understand their preferences and needs before setting the schedule can be a helpful approach.
Even after the programming times are set, both organizations and parents will face interruptions and schedule changes. For your programs, this might look like bad weather delays or a change in location. For parents, shifting work schedules for a sick child could change their needs. By using registration software equipped with real-time SMS messaging, organizations can promptly notify parents about any changes, allowing families to manage their schedules or find alternative care. Additionally, having software that enables parents to register online and in person gives them the flexibility to make last-minute choices.
The financial burden of child care is also a limiting factor for registrations. Although you may not be able to reduce the cost of programming, offering payment plans can level the playing field. Another cost-cutting option is to provide online versions of classes and camps at reduced rates.
How ACTIVENet Can Help Organizations Manage the Child-Care Crisis
ACTIVENet is designed to run every aspect of your organization smoothly and efficiently while giving staff the ability to deliver the very best experiences and service. Equipped with features such as waitlist management, mobile registration, and text messaging, ACTIVE helps organizations make their programs more efficient and cost effective to help them battle the child-care crisis. While lawmakers and policy experts work to find long-term solutions for the child-care crisis, organizations can play a crucial role in supporting families. By being flexible with programming, using real-time communication tools, and leveraging registration software like ACTIVENet, organizations can help alleviate the challenges faced by parents and contribute to a more sustainable child-care landscape. If you're interested in learning more about how ACTIVENet can support your organization, click here. And if you're a current customer, connect with your account manager today to learn how you can be better utilizing its child-care tools to support your organization and the families in your community.