Utah Women’s Access to Child Care: education, awareness and political activity are the key.
In the spring of 2017 the Utah Women and Leadership Project with the YWCA of Utah identified gaps and potential interventions when it comes to Utah women’s access to child care in Utah.
Utah women’s access to child care affects potential employment, the gender wage gap among other things within the economy. Thought leaders came together to establish potential steps to change Utah women’s access to child care. What follows are their recommendations organized by category. See the comprehensive list here. Clearly, there is much to be done.
Financial incentives and support
- First, Congress should provide funding for all the changes to Utah women’s access to child care so that it will be implemented rather than unfunded mandates/changes.
- Income tax deduction cap needs to be raised from $5,000 to $10,000 and be on a “per child” basis.
- Additionally, financial aid and claiming children (loan forgiveness) should be provided.
- Women in the Economy Commission focus group report includes a suggestion where the state provides financial incentives to open a child care to encourage more high quality options to meet demand.
- Therefore, incentivizing childcare facilities may increase Utah women’s access to childcare.
- Parents need to know about CAC and/or how to use it to its full potential; a statewide marketing campaign is needed for this resource.
- There is a need for a statewide comprehensive QRIS system, based on research, to rate and evaluate providers consistently across the state to provides a quality tool for parents to use when looking for child care.
Creation of economic opportunity
- Provide education/invest in providers.
- Also, there is a serious need to increase public funding as well as public discussion.
- Additionally, Utah needs more collaboration among all players in the childcare system. The early education sphere tends to be more collaborative, but the younger childcare systems/providers/advocates (age 0-2) do not work together as well.
- There used to be a coalition of campus childcare centers that met regularly; this group should re-engage.
- Everyone involved in proving quality needs to be on the same page.
- Women in the Economy Commission focus group report includes suggestions to expand flexibility of childcare hours and requirements to meet families’ varied child care needs outside of the current system structured around full-time, business-hours care.
- Seemingly, families need more options for part-time care, drop-in options, and care outside 8am-6pm.
- Women in the Economy Commission focus group report includes suggestion of having more on-site childcare at places of work to ease parents’ anxiety, with more flexible and convenience.
Advocacy and shaping attitudes
- Raise awareness, particularly about available resources for Utah women’s access to child care.
- More education and advocacy about existing policies and regulations.
- Also, Statewide marketing of CAC.
- Educate parents, particularly that providers are not babysitters.
- Educational/cultural shift for the state needs to occur regarding the need to childcare, using it, etc. (including the guilt/shame factor).
Laws, policies, and regulations
- Change definition of education (so that it counts as employment) in childcare subsidy eligibility criteria. DWS can change regulation, legislation not needed.
- Pre-tax benefit in Utah for childcare costs. Deduction max is a federal issue but state should be doing something with that.
- Lastly, it is important that people it is necessary to involve the individuals affected by policy when creating them.
Research and data
- OCC is going to study economic impact of child care based on needs assessment.
- Ongoing ability/method for sharing the research and information among us.
- Researchers with universities and DWS need to reach out to providers more when conducting studies.
- An annual meeting of researchers may help identify needs and gaps more effectively.
As a result, there are potential actions any citizen can take regardless of professional position, education level or socio-economic status. To learn more about what you can do to effect Utah women’s access to child care read the full list of gaps, challenges and impact recommendations.
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