Topeka, Kansas — The labor force now has 1 million fewer women than it did when the pandemic began — and childcare has been cited as one of the major reasons why, according to the National Women’s Law Center. The cost of child care now amounts to 31% of the average income for women.
“That’s a third of her income just to child care,” University of Kansas professor Donna Ginther told CBS News. “It’s costing more than it makes sense for a lot of women to be able to work.”
Part of the problem is scarcity. Along with increasing costs, many child care centers around the U.S. are shutting down. In Kansas, roughly 350 child care centers have closed since the pandemic began.
“If we don’t have safe places to send our kids, how do you expect us to go to work?” said Erica Garcia Babb, a parent.
The Manchester School for Young Children in Topeka was forced to shut down after nine years in business because director Christina Turner could not find qualified help. Nearly three-fourths of counties in the state have become “child care deserts.”
“Everyone is so burned out and everyone is so frustrated,” Turner told CBS News.
“Everybody knows that Christina has done everything she possibly can and has fought so hard for these kids,” one parent said through tears. “It’s just too bad.”
“Child care is truly the backbone of our entire economy,” Turner said. “But for some reason, our society is not seeing it that way.”