Why Do the People Raising Our Children Earn Poverty Wages?

Source: E. Tammy Kim, The Nation, August 19-26, 2013

“…Despite Hargrove’s thirteen years of caregiving experience, her income is unsteady and sparse. Her earnings have ranged from $0 for weeks at a time to a short-lived career high of $3,000 per month, which brought her household to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. “I’ve had to go on and off food stamps several times—especially when I had my children, before they went to college—depending on how the childcare was going,” she says. Hargrove has even qualified for Medicaid. Subsidy rates are low, and she charges the same—just $165 per week for fifty hours of infant care—to private-pay clients. With one or two children, she can’t make ends meet, and Hargrove rarely has the state maximum of five in her care. ‘There are times that you have no clients, so if you get a drop-off—somebody just needs you for a few hours—you do that.’”