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AUSTIN, Texas – A new report issued by the Women’s Fund at Austin Community Foundation, Child Care – An Essential Work Support for Women, reveals a lack of quality child care options in Central Texas negatively impacts the economic security of local women and children.

According to the analysis, developed in collaboration with CHILDREN AT RISK, women with young children are far less likely to participate in the workforce than their male counterparts. Many mothers who need or want to work do not because they cannot find adequate care or because the cost of child care can parallel, or even exceed, potential wages.

Furthermore, access to affordable, quality child care is a critical two-generation approach. Aside from boosting families’ economic stability, access to quality child care impacts the children served. High-quality learning settings for children ages 0 to 3 have shown to support healthier cognitive development, improved academic skills, and a lower risk of behavioral challenges.

Some other data points from the report include:

  • 14,500 children under age 6 do not have access to affordable child care in Central Texas.
  • For a low-income family of four earning $50,200/year, child care for an infant and toddler can cost 36 percent of their total income.
  • A mother who leaves the workforce may lose as much as four times her annual earning for each year she is not working, when accounting for income, potential wage growth and retirement savings.
  • Only 11 percent of child care providers in Central Texas hold the state’s quality accreditations.

About half of child care providers in Central Texas participate in the Texas Workforce Commission’s child care financial assistance program.

The findings from this report reinforce the need to invest in access to quality child care, and offer recommendations for policy-makers, nonprofits and philanthropists to address this critical issue in Central Texas.

Austin Community Foundation believes that when women are economically secure, safe and healthy, then families and communities thrive, Mike Nellis, CEO of Austin Community Foundation, said. “Investing in the expansion of proven child care programs and providers will increase access to working mothers and their families, improve early childhood education rates and enhance the economic security of women in our community.”

The Women’s Fund, established in 2004 to focus on the needs of local women and children, is a key strategy in Austin Community Foundation’s effort to close the opportunity gap in Central Texas.

Read the report and learn more about the Women’s Fund at austincf.org/womensfund.