America’s child care crisis is getting worse

America’s child care crisis is getting worse

America’s fragile child care industry was thrown into a full-blown crisis by the pandemic, as thousands of workers left the generally low-paying work of caring for young children. Today, as the economy nears full employment, there are nearly 90,000 fewer child care workers in America than before the pandemic. Yet child care was a notable omission from the Democrats’ sweeping climate, tax and health care package that passed over the summer. Vox’s Rachel M. Cohen writes that the problem won’t be solved without public funding.

“Trying to cover higher wages with price hikes just results in more people pulling their kids out of child care due to the cost,” said Matt Bruenig, founder of People’s Policy Project, a leftist think tank. “So the only real way to increase the size of the child care workforce is to increase pay without increasing child care rates, which requires public subsidy.” Bruenig pointed to the Nordic nations, where government subsidies to the child care sector on average constitute about 87 percent of the sector’s revenues. (Some small fees are required of higher-income child care users, making up the remaining 13 percent.) 

Measuring Black well being
Black Americans have a lower life expectancy (74.8 years) than any other ethnic group in the country except for American Indian and Alaska Natives. A new Brookings’ report examines the factors that affect the well-being of Black Americans. Authors Andre M. Perry and Jonathan Rothwell break down the social conditions that contribute to the life expectancy for Black Americans. 

We highlight the areas where Black people have been living the longest because it may provide insight into the local civic actions that have produced those outcomes—actions that other places may take. Each year, we will add additional focal points of well-being, building out a comprehensive examination of the living conditions of Black people To emphasize Black health is not to de-emphasize social inequity. The legacy of structural racism pervades the country in the form of lower wealth and socioeconomic status for Black people. In turn, this legacy influences the so-called “social determinants of health,” which we define as patterns of behavior and environmental conditions that have largely social causes, but also biological implications on mental and physical health. 

What it costs to get an abortion
Nearly half of women seeking abortion services have incomes below the federal poverty line. But the cost of this procedure has increased dramatically since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, especially in states where abortion is outlawed. Women in the 14 states that have banned abortion, including Louisiana, now face the added costs for travel, lodging and other expenses and are turning to charities for help. But as The New York Times’ Allison McCann explains, this increased need has put a financial strain on the charities that threatens the services they provide. 

“Calls are taking twice as long, we’re having to re-explain to people this new shifting landscape, to reassure people that abortion is still legal — or to reset expectations because now they might have to travel several states over,” said A.J. Haynes, the board president of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, which saw the legal status of abortion in Louisiana change three times this summer. Even after the flood of donations in recent months, more money is needed to cover paid staff members, data infrastructure and legal guidance. “In October, we will be significantly rolling back the amount of support we are able to offer,” Ms. Haynes said.

The New Orleans Abortion Fund, a non profit organization that provdies financial and practical support for abortion care in the Gulf South, saw its average spending per patient increase from $308 to $729. 

Focus on crime victims reparations
Louisiana’s Crime Victims Reparations Fund is financed through federal grants and by fines, fees and other restitution paid by people convicted of crimes. But accessing these dollars can be cumbersome, and many crime victims don’t know about the fund or how to apply for money. A new state law gives the fund’s oversight board more flexibility, and increases the maximum award. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Julie O’Donoghue reports that victims’ advocates worry that the board is being too conservative in administering the new law: 

Anxious about the changes associated with the spending, the Crime Victims Reparations Board staff has proposed regulations to place caps on certain types of reimbursements. They would limit reimbursements to $6,000 for relocation costs and $6500 for funerals within the new $15,000 maximum for most victims.  This means a person looking to move after becoming a crime victim could still get $15,000 worth of costs covered, but the amount would have to cover relocation expenses and a  mix of bills for other services such as counseling or medical treatment. 

Part of the caution stems from budgeting gimmicks by former Gov. Bobby Jindal and state lawmakers that forced members to defer reimbursements to victims.

“We were three years behind paying claims when I came in 2016,” (Chairman Jim) Craft said. The fund wasn’t lacking money because it had too many claims from crime victims. It was because former Gov. Bobby Jindal and state lawmakers used its funding for other needs. At the time, Louisiana was in a budget crisis and Jindal – in an effort to avoid raising taxes – often “swept” the crime victims fund to help pay for higher education and health care programs that it would have been unpopular to cut.

Number of the Day
$2 billion –
Amount of funding the Community Development Block Grant
program will receive in an upcoming stopgap bill to fund the federal government to provide disaster relief funding to states affected by natural disasters in 2021 to 2022. (Source: States Newsroom)