New Poll: Women Deciding Against Children, Citing High Cost of Child Care, Preschool
MANDAN, N.D. - A new national poll finds that the high cost of quality preschool and child care is causing women of child-bearing age to decide against having a baby or delay having one.
The poll, commissioned by the anti-crime organization "Fight Crime: Invest in Kids", found that 28 percent of women ages 25-34 have delayed starting a family or decided not to have a second or subsequent child.
Law enforcement leaders are calling on Congress to increase support for child care and Head Start. Research shows that when at-risk children receive quality child care and Head Start, they are less likely to end up in trouble with the law when they grow up.
At a news conference held today at the Mandan N.D. Head Start Center, Police Chief Darryl Bulzomi and Morton County Sheriff Dave Shipman called on Congress to restore Head Start and Child Care funding to their 2002 service levels. That requires an additional $750 million for Head Start and $720 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grants, which would be a first step toward making high early education available to everyone.
Among the key findings in the poll were:
-- For middle income women ($35,000-$50,000 in total household
income), one in three (33 percent) said that the cost of child
care and preschool made them decide against having a baby or
delay having one.
-- 68 percent of women 18-40 said that child care and early education
was an important issue in deciding who to vote for in the
presidential election. The response rose to 78 percent for women
18-40 with annual household incomes below $25,000.
-- One-third of women 18-40 with children said they have had to make
difficult economic choices such as deferring the purchase of an
appliance or because of the high cost of child care and preschool.
Bulzomi said the average cost of a full-time private preschool program in North Dakota is $428 a month, or $5,135 annually, far more than middle - or low-income families can afford even if they have only one child. Tuition for an in-state student at the University of North Dakota for the upcoming 2007-08 academic year is just over $6,000 (the total for fall and spring semesters).
Balzomi also cited data from the landmark Perry Preschool study showing that when at-risk children are denied quality child care and preschool, they are more likely to commit crimes as adults.
"Early education is an investment in crime prevention. Ensuring that kids have a seat in a high quality early education program helps prevent them from ending up in the back seat of a police cruiser. Keeping our communities safe begins with early education," Bulzomi said.
Shipman said quality early education also saves money and cited a study of the Perry Preschool that showed these programs saved $17 for every $1 invested. By the time the children reached the age of 40, total savings were $259,000 per child. Of that, $172,000 was in savings from the reduced cost of crime.
"When government officials fail to support proven crime prevention programs like child care and Head Start, they force law enforcement officials to fight crime with one hand tied behind their backs," Shipman said.
The poll was conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation via telephone and surveyed 600 women from July 12-23. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids takes a hard look at the research to find out what works to prevent kids from turning to a life of crime. The nonprofit organization has more than 3,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, other law enforcement leaders and violence survivors as members.