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Child care is crucial for Latino and all families, but some face issues with access and cost.
While many Latino households with low incomes used no-cost child care, those who paid out-of-pocket tended to face very high costs, according to a new research brief from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families (Hispanic Research Center).
“Our findings suggest a need for sustained and varied investments to support affordable child care access for Hispanic families with low incomes,” according to the Hispanic Research Center.
Let’s dig deeper into how this impacts Latino families.
Child care Costs for Latinos
The Hispanic Research Center examined data from the 2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education to explore the average weekly hours of child care and number of providers across three levels of care spending including no cost, low cost, and high cost.
The brief also broke down child care affordability for Latino households with low incomes by whether a household member is an immigrant, poverty status, and child age composition.
Data shows that most Latino households with low incomes (77%) that used regular child care in 2019 had affordable arrangements.
“These households paid 7 percent or less of household income for care,” according to the Hispanic Research Center. “Most of these households (71%) had no out-of-pocket cost burden because they used providers who were either unpaid or paid through another source (e.g., publicly or privately subsidized care).”
However, other Latino families struggled to pay for child care.
Roughly 1 in 4 Latino households with low incomes who used care in 2019 (23%) had high child care cost burden.
Among low-income Latino households who paid out-of-pocket for care, those with at least one child younger than 3 spent a significantly more of their household income on care (30%) than those with only children 3 or older (18%).
“Indicators of affordability of child care for Hispanic households with low incomes were generally similar across household poverty levels; they also varied little based on whether the household includes immigrants,” according to the brief.
No-cost center cares can include programs like Head Start, state pre-K, and CCDF subsidies.
“We found that a larger share of immigrant Hispanic households used no-cost center care (48%) compared to non-immigrant households (24%),” according to the Hispanic Research Center. “Conversely, a larger share of non-immigrant households (61%) than immigrant households (36%) used unpaid home-based care.”
The brief also notes how COVID-19 worsened child care supply issues, as providers left the field and programs closed, with evidence that such losses disproportionately impact Latinos.
“Families will likely continue to face significant challenges finding affordable child care that meets their needs,” according to the Hispanic Research Center. “Expanding access to no- and low-cost high-quality child care arrangements for working families remains an important policy priority to achieve poverty reduction and bolster the economy, and our results in this analysis suggest that such efforts could benefit many Hispanic households with low incomes.”
The importance of affordable child care is evident.
In fact, an April 2023 White House executive order focused on the need for access to affordable, high-quality early care and education to “give young children a strong start in life.”
“Even when high-quality care is available, it costs far more than many families and individuals can afford, causing them to forgo care altogether, seek lower-quality care options, juggle unconventional shifts at work, reduce their own paid work hours, drop out of the labor force, or make other arrangements,” according to the executive order.
The executive order suggests:
- Creating policy to enable families to have access to affordable, high-quality care and to have support and resources as caregivers themselves.
- Increasing compensation and improving job quality for family caregivers, early educators, and long-term care workers.
- Making care more accessible and affordable for families.
- Expanding options for families by building the supply of care.
“The Congress must provide the transformative investments necessary to increase access to high-quality child care — including preschool and Head Start — and long-term care services, as well as high-quality, well-paying jobs that reflect the value the care workforce provides to families and communities,” according to the executive order.
The Hispanic Research Center also called for more data about Latino families’ child care expenditures and types of arrangements they can access within their budget.
Without this data, policymakers have an incomplete picture of child care affordability.
“Expanding access to no- and low-cost high-quality child care arrangements for working families remains an important policy priority to achieve poverty reduction and bolster the economy, and our results in this analysis suggest that such efforts could benefit many Hispanic households with low incomes,” according to the Hispanic Research Center.
How “Handle With Care” Can Help Kids
Many children stress and trauma, including poverty.
These experiences can interfere with their behavior and grades—and schools often aren’t even aware there’s an issue.
Despite this, there is still a way you can assist a child in getting the help they need with the Handle With Care Action Pack from Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio.
The Action Pack helps police, school, and mental healthcare leaders start the Handle with Care program, in which police notify schools when they encounter children at a traumatic scene, so schools can provide support right away.
The Action Pack was created by Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, in collaboration with Andrea Darr of the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice, which launched Handle With Care.
“We believe our Action Pack will unite police, schools, and mental health leaders to support traumatized students,” Ramirez said. “Even with school closed, Handle With Care can enable traumatized students achieve academically and emotionally at their highest level, while helping prevent future risky behavior and chronic disease.”