Mary Coleman

Recent Articles

Small Children, Small Pay: Why Child Care Pays So Little

Child care is expensive, yet those who provide it are poorly paid. Solving the dilemma may call for a Solomonic choice.

With one out of every two American mothers returning to paid employment before her baby's first birthday the call for high-quality affordable child care is being heard with increasing frequency and urgency. Many employed parents complain that licensed child care is too expensive and that they must make do with informal arrangements of uncertain quality and dependability. For some mothers, the high cost of child care discourages them from seeking employment; other women remain childless or limit the size of their families for the same reason. In a recent report, Who Cares for America's Children? , the National Research Council (NRC) set out an agenda for child care policy in the 1990s, identifying three major policy goals: to achieve uniformly high quality in child care; to improve accessibility; and to make child care more affordable. To achieve higher quality in child care, the report recommends a low child/staff ratio and more education for child care workers. Although the report's...