Early childhood education is a fundamental building block to ensuring the growth of young minds. Throughout the nation, 90% of childcare franchises are owned by women, 50% of whom are women of color, and 92% of all childcare workers in the U.S. are women. By strengthening childcare networks and facilities, Women United is advocating for a triple win: the growth of young minds, helping women return– and stay– in the workforce, and supporting women business owners.
Across the nation, Women United chapters are advocating, fundraising, and volunteering for this movement. With so many different models we can learn from each other and work together to expand access. In a recent Women United Town Hall hosted by our Women United Global Leadership Council, we heard from Women United members from across the country about their work on this issue. Here are a few of the innovative ways they are tackling the childcare challenge.
Now under construction, the Mile High United Way Early Childhood Education Center in Denver, Colorado, will offer early learning for 58 children ages 0 - 5. Mile High United Way has made strides to provide childcare for families in need, opening early childhood learning centers in attachment to Mercy Housing, Warren Village, and the Lifespan Local community center.
In Iowa, ranked #3 as the state with the highest percentage of households with two working parents, childcare work is still one of the three lowest paying jobs, putting Iowa parents in great need. Women United members advocate for stronger legislation supporting working families and support for the child care “cliff effect”. Many working families in this state are unable to pay the high cost childcare.
Childcare affects parents, children, educators, and business owners alike. Resources are a necessity in childcare for each branch of the system. United Way Central Iowa partners to support mental health training for child care providers, along with providing wrap-around services to students in centers such as dental checks, vision screenings, mental and behavioral health screens, and families health services.
A similar program was born out of the rise in the childcare crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic in New Jersey. As center and home based providers struggled to keep their doors open, essential-worker families struggled to find childcare. Still now, staffing shortages coupled with the financial strain of operating sustainable childcare businesses leave many families without care and the childcare industry in a precarious position. “United in Care” creates shared-services alliances to expand capacity in communities, leverage collective expertise to increase the quality of care, and share critical resources to promote financial health of providers, thereby increasing sustainability. United in Care’s ALICE Tuition Assistance helps working parents access otherwise unaffordable quality care. United Way Northern New Jersey Women United members support the development and implementation of the project and are poised for advocacy to allow more families to access affordable quality care and for businesses to flourish.
The needs of every family and of every child are unique to their own experiences. United Way of Central Maryland’s Family Centers provide quality childcare and early childhood education, offering free care at two high-school-based sites that serve student parents, and reduced-cost care for ALICE households at a third site. All Family Centers provide an array of free resources and services for families and community residents. This has allowed teen parents to successfully finish their degree, while also putting their child in good hands to get ahead in their own education. It is never too early to initiate education and it is always important to support education.
Expanding access to quality, affordable, educational childcare is a cause we are proud to fight for.
For more information about Women United and how you can get involved visit womenunited.org.