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4 Ways To Help Make Child Care Crisis Less Challenging For Single Black Mothers

Dealing with financial stress and leaving jobs are among the downfalls Black single mother face due to the ongoing childcare crisis.

Check out these shocking statistics: Some 36% of Black mothers declare paying for childcare causes financial stress.

Further, that same percentage of Black women have chosen to leave a job or the workforce entirely because of childcare issues, recent studies show.

And those figures are just a small sampling of why observers contend that employers must support mothers and parents when it comes to helping provide care for children. The childcare debacle is costly. Annual losses tied to parents missing work since 2020 totaled $122 billion, with businesses realizing a yearly loss of $12.7 billion.

The childcare crisis can be devastating for Black parents, especially single Black moms who often don’t have a partner to divide those duties with or cannot afford to take a break from work to look after children.

Carleen Haylett, the CEO of EnrichedHQ, a marketplace that offers educational activities for school-aged kids among its services, told BLACK ENTERPRISE via email it’s impossible any longer to sugarcoat the epidemic that is the childcare crisis nationally. She says this is disproportionally acute for single Black mothers.

She says Black families represent the largest sector—(80%) of the 15 million single-family homes in the US that need childcare—with nearly 58% of them being led by single Black moms.

To boot, she noted this group, by and large, is employed in jobs requiring their physical presence on-site, outside of the home. Coupled with being largely hourly positions, these employees also rarely gain access to company-sponsored childcare benefits offered to their in-office counterparts.

Haylett says that working parents, particularly mothers, are among the most prone to leave their jobs due to childcare responsibilities. Consider that 52% of mothers are contemplating exiting the workforce, and 33% have scaled back or quit their jobs since 2020. Other disturbing figures show a typical median-income Black family with two young children spends 56% of their income on childcare. Further, 13.1% of Black parents either quit or are likely to quit or do not take a job due to childcare issues. 

Current benefits packages operate on the misconception that childcare ends after kindergarten. The truth is that a significant number of working parents are forced to scale back or quit their jobs to care for school-aged children,” Haylett explains.

“Until employers acknowledge this reality, they are unlikely to find much success in preventing working parents from missing work.”

She says her firm can help solve the problem by offering a marketplace of online programs geared for school-aged children that employers can subsidize. She claims her solution could be offered as an extension of their existing benefits, making them cost-effective and an alternative to traditional childcare like extracurriculars and in-home care.

Haylett offered some tips for Black single moms and employers to help lessen the troubling problem:

1) Build a support community.  

For instance, nonprofit organizations like local churches, community centers, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America offer options for free care. Take the time to fully understand what is available from state and district programs offered directly through schools. Personally, Haylett says she used a $75/year YMCA membership to gain access to free childcare for her son when he was little, calling it a lifesaver.

2) Company-Funded Childcare Resources

For companies, executives and HR leaders should consider what “childcare” means for everyone. With school-aged kids being the largest population, offering only daycare access or stipends to backup sitters just doesn’t cut it for those moms. That is especially true with employees needing to be on-site or in-person for work. Employers can turn unused offices or workspaces into after-school homework centers.

3) Make Use of Unutilized Space

Employers can turn unused offices or workspaces into after-school homework centers.

4) Be Self Resourceful

Partner with organizations that support addressing the lack of availability of quality childcare offerings. Organizations like Girls Inc., with many brick-and-mortar sites across the country, offer free after-school options, including tutoring, life-skills programs, and access to technology. If access to technology assets is a concern, look to organizations like PCs for People that provide computers, software, and Internet access, often for free.

Haylett says it is essential that executives and HR leaders build strong communication and awareness programs for employees. A “build it and they will come” mentality will not achieve the benefits to employees initially set out. Ensuring the culture of flexibility and continued communication of the availability of such programs is essential to their success and is “driven from the top of the organization and its culture.”

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