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'The Ramifications Are Huge' — Survey Shows Economic Effects Of High Child Care Costs In Maine

Robbie Feinberg
/
Maine Public
Marija Bingulac, a senior community development analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, presents findings at CEI in Brunswick on Monday.

A new survey highlights the negative economic effects of child care costs on families across New England.

Representatives from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston presented the initial findings from a survey of parents, child care providers and other stakeholders at a meeting in Brunswick Monday morning.

Marija Bingulac, a senior community development analyst with the bank, says parents reported that child care issues affected their job performance and even their credit score. She acknowledges that the survey isn’t fully representative of the population of New England as a whole.

“But the ramifications are huge. We see it in, not only in forgoing employment opportunities, which are immediate. We see it in debt. We see it in having to pay the debt off — credit cards, credit scores,” she says.

Low pay for workers was also cited as a huge problem in the system, and many parents said they felt pressured to choose child care arrangements they weren’t happy with.

Beth Mattingly, an assistant vice president of regional and community outreach, says child care is an important priority for the bank, as it can affect who is able to enter the workforce.

“We’ve been hearing from families about challenges working — obstacles to work. And wanting to think about child care in a way that brought attention to it as a needed workforce support,” she says.

Mattingly says the bank is planning to publish the full survey results later this year.

The cost of center-based child care can often run upwards of $10,000 per year in Maine. The Federal Reserve Bank is hoping the research might be used in developing possible child care pilot projects across the region.

Maine Public explored issues surrounding child care in a weeklong Deep Dive this summer. Visit mainepublic.org/childcare to read more.