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Affordable, quality child care needed to support working moms

By Archive

A recent report gave N.H. a D+ grade for work and family policies that support working women.

Regardless of your thoughts about the proper role of government, we can probably agree that our elected officials can, when they choose to, provide a helping hand to working families.

Which is why Status of Women in the States, a recent report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, was so disheartening. While New Hampshire received a laudable overall grade of B, on the strength of women's political participation and wealth (compared to the rest of the U.S.), we received a dismal D+ for work and family policies that support women in the workplace.

Young girl laughing

The work and family policies examined include access to child care. Nearly 49,000 N.H. children qualify for state child care assistance, but fewer than 10% actually receive it. N.H. ranks 42nd for its cost of infant care relative to women's earnings. We tied for last for its percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled in state pre-kindergarten, preschool special education, and state and federal Head Start programs.

At this point, the value of quality preschool to a child's education, future earnings and social mobility is beyond dispute. Policymakers and the business community need to also understand that this is an economic development issue as well.

The one-third of N.H. working women in low-wage jobs, and the employers who expect them to arrive and leave on time and work with minimal distraction, rely on the availability of affordable, quality, child care. For too many working moms, that option simply doesn't exist.

The N.H. Community Loan Fund supports economic opportunity for women through all of our housing, economic opportunity and community facility financing programs. The Institute for Women's Policy Research data tells us there's more to do than can be left to a nonprofit, or even a community of nonprofits. We continue to hope that state policymakers, and the business community, will join us in providing opportunity to NH's working families.

Creative Commons photo from University of the Fraser Valley