Finding affordable, high-quality, child care is both a necessity and a barrier to employment for most families. It’s even more out of reach when you are a family living at 100% of the federal poverty level – which for a family of three is a meager $20,160 a year. However, families don’t stop being in need when they get $1, $100, or $1,000 above the federally defined poverty threshold. Even at 200% of the established poverty threshold, a family of three earns no more than $40,180 a year, and according to the United Community Services or Johnson County, a truly livable wage for a family of three in Johnson County is $48,686. With nearly 37,000 Johnson County residents living below the federal poverty level, the cost for quality child care is increasingly difficult for these families and a financial burden.
In Johnson County, the price of full day care at a local child care center can cost, on average, $13,600 for an infant for one year – which is 67.6% of a family’s income for those living at the federal poverty level. The average price of full day care for a toddler at a local child care center for one year is $11,200 – 55.7% of a family’s income for those living at the federal poverty level. With over half of a family’s income going towards childcare alone, it does not leave much, if anything, to help cover the additional daily living expenses that we all face, such as housing/rent, food, transportation needs, medical bills, etc.
Unfortunately, we also know that without access to quality early education, children from low-income families are more likely than their peers to lack the key resources needed for a good start on the school readiness path. They are behind even before arriving at preschool. That is why everything that we do at Growing Futures is crucial to making sure that the low-income children in our community’s educational, developmental, and nutritional needs are met. Yet Growing Futures does so much more, we focus on the whole family.
By providing services for health, nutrition, social services, mental health, as well as parent engagement and education opportunities, we help empower the families that we serve as they journey towards self-sufficiency. We’ve come a long way since 1965, but there is still work to be done. We look forward to the next 50 years of ensuring that all children have the right start in life, and with your help, we know we will succeed.
*Statistics pulled from the United Community Services 2014 Johnson County Poverty Numbers released 2015 and 2016 Poverty Guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services released January 2016.