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Report: More West Virginia Parents Not Working due to Childcare Issues

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Thirteen percent of young children in West Virginia lived in families in which someone quit their job or refused a job because of responsibilities with child care, and the number is likely higher among Black and Latino parents, according to the latest Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book.

Women are five to eight times more likely than men to experience negative employment consequences due to lack of child care.

Bobbie Spry, community engagement specialist, West Virginia Kids Count, said advocates in the state continue to push for enrollment-based subsidies for child care centers. She explained basing reimbursements on enrollment instead of attendance would increase financial stability for providers and help shrink yearlong waitlists.

“West Virginia’s average cost of center-based child care for a toddler was $7,955,” Spry reported. “That’s 9% of the median income of a married couple and 35% of a single mother’s income.”

Last year, West Virginia Kids Count reported 21% of West Virginia’s children are living in households with a high housing cost burden. Spry noted ongoing unaffordable child care costs will likely mean more housing uncertainty for families living paycheck to paycheck.

More than 60% of child care workers nationwide recently reported having difficulty paying their own food and utility bills. Spry pointed out the child care issue is pushing more Mountain State families into poverty.

“Our overall ranking remains at 42 which is what it was last year,” Spry emphasized. “I don’t feel like we’re doing enough to push that needle.”

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the failings of the child care system cost the U.S. economy around $122 billion a year in lost worker earnings, productivity, and tax revenue.

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