Women’s workforce participation is plummeting. Nationally, nearly one in three women ages of 25 - 44 have been pushed out of the labor force because they have no access to affordable child care. Child professionals are being underpaid or pushed out of jobs as well. Women’s labor force participation is now at a 30-year low. That’s a huge problem and a major setback for families, businesses, gender and racial equality, and our economy.

Certainly, we know that significant investment in our care infrastructure -- from child care to paid leave, to raising the minimum wage, long term care, making permanent improvements to the EITC and Child Tax Credit, and more — will both create jobs and enable parents to work. We need permanent workplace protections and a care infrastructure that covers everyone, always, because too many families were hanging by a thread even before the pandemic began. We don’t want to do go back to that. We want to do better going forward.

As you know, investing in a care infrastructure is a win-win. Even Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, talked about it recently as a way to lift our economy. For infants and toddlers, these investments can be life changing by ensuring infants and toddlers get high-quality child care during the years where the most rapid brain development is occurring. For example, increasing the supply of child care (including home-based child care) can alleviate the scarcity of child care, which is more than three times as scarce for children aged 0-2 during these critical years.

James Nordlund lives in Moorhead.

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