Women in the Workplace: How childcare problems may impact the bounce back

Virus Outbreak Child Care
Posted at 5:21 AM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 07:03:31-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — All week long on 7 Action News, we're highlighting "Women in the Workplace."

We're digging into what metro Detroit women are facing and how those obstacles have shifted during the pandemic. From childcare to maintaining a work-life balance or re-entering and leaving the workforce; we're tackling it all with a new topic each day.

First, we're exploring how the childcare crisis is stopping some women from jumping back into work and what's being done locally to help.

A recent study from Lending Tree, which took data from the Center for American Progress and Child Care Aware of America, found that for the average family, childcare costs soared when the pandemic hit

In Michigan, prices jumped 61% during the pandemic, the 12th highest spike nationwide. Michigan families are dishing out on average more than $15,000 a year.

It's an issue experts say is playing a role in some women not wanting or not being able to jump back into the workforce.

It's a problem Krista McClure saw long before COVID. The working mother of two opened "Detroit Parent Collective" in Detroit's Bagley neighborhood in 2017. It's not your traditional daycare center, and approaches childcare a little differently.

“Right now if you have one child it’s 187.50 per month. It’s a gym membership so to speak," she said. "You pay a monthly membership, you have access to WiFi and you’re guaranteed 6 hours of co-working during that time.”

The idea is that parents and guardians come to Detroit Parent Collective too, to get their work done while their kids learn and explore; a concept perhaps made more practical during COVID while so many people were working remotely.

McClure said it's a need particularly helpful in an area with a lot of multi-generational families.

“That might look like an aunt or a grandmother, who is actually able to come into a space like this, maybe read, have respite," McClure said of the co-working element of DPC.

She has a background in the education policy sector and said access to flexible programs has been a challenge for Detroit working families because it's not one-size-fits-all.

“I think the beauty of our space currently and through COVID has demonstrated the need to offer flexibility for families.”

Oakland Family Services both runs a child care center and employs mostly women. They served families primarily in the Walled Lake and Pontiac areas.

“The population we serve, this is a huge issue," said OFS's President and CEO Jaimie Clayton.

However, Clayton also said there's some reason to hope at both the federal and the state levels, to expand access to financial help.

“We’re really hoping to see some relief through the governor’s new budget," she said. "Changing the poverty levels, so if they change those levels more people will actually fit into the category that they’re eligible for some kind of subsidy from the state.”

DPC is more affordable than a traditional full-time daycare center at just under $200 monthly, but it is only part-time and has limited space, currently only able to serve 12 families. However McClure said through the help of a grant, she's able to provide programming for an additional 20 kids in Detroit this summer.

"I think honestly a Detroit Parent Collective belongs in any urban community. If you want to be able to bridge the divides," she said.