Early Childcare Supports for Low-Wage Earning Families in the United States
- Christina M. Stephens, M.S., Doctoral Student in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- Heather M. Helms, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Document type: Encyclopedia Entry
Appears in: Work and Family Encyclopedia
In the United States, a large portion of the job market is made up of minimum- or low-wage positions. For parents earning low incomes, full-time (or more) hours and continuous employment are imperative for financial stability necessitating the need for childcare. Many parents employed in low-wage jobs experience challenges to financial stability and access to center-based childcare that is also high-quality. The affordability of childcare and the mismatch between childcare services and job characteristics are significant concerns for parents employed in low-wage jobs. Affordable, high quality childcare that supports the daily realities of parents earning low wages is especially difficult to find. When families cannot access appropriate childcare arrangements, employment, financial stability, and children’s healthy development may be compromised. The purpose of this entry is to describe the challenges that families earning low wages encounter as they navigate work demands and attempt to secure center-based childcare. In so doing, the everyday experiences of low-wage earning families and their resilient efforts to secure childcare inform future directions for research and policy.