One number that sometimes gets thrown around by politicians is the rising number of single parent family households in the U.S. According to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau (collected in 2017, as this year’s results have yet to be tabulated), just over 25 percent of all under-21s in the U.S. have a household headed by a single parent. The numbers are even higher for Hispanic and African-American kids, where 28.7 and 48.8 percent, respectively, lived with just one parent. A number that won’t shock too many, however, is the fact that 4 out of 5 (80 percent) of these single parents are female.
So, with single moms such a large part of our nation’s demographic (over 10 million), why is there just one single mom representing this group in Congress? And yet, California Democrat Katie Porter doesn’t stand entirely alone. She comes armed with her magical (and oh-so-well-informed) whiteboard, a piece of office equipment that’s got a sizable Twitter fan base. Buzzfeed News recently spoke with Porter, and they found out that she – and her whiteboard – have come up with a plan to get our country — its actual citizens, not just its wealthy stockholders — to get back on the right track economically.
Porter says childcare is of the utmost importance
While Buzzfeed did not disclose whether Porter’s whiteboard was actually present at their interview, the representative was, as ever, quick to supply pertinent statistics. She remarked upon the fact that 1.1 million workers left the workforce this September, and that 80 percent of those workers were women. As Porter informed Buzzfeed, these women “have been hanging on [during the pandemic], and doing all these things we tell women to do — have a strong support network, be organized, make meals in advance, juggle, be flexible.” She notes, though, that “at some point, it just becomes overwhelming,” particularly since women are always being told, when it comes to childcare issues, “This is up to you to figure out.”
Porter says that in order for our society to be functional, we have to realize that children aren’t someone else’s problem, and that the childcare crisis is something that affects our entire nation and needs to be dealt with, stat.
Porter's plan for improved childcare
Porter told Buzzfeed that we, as a nation, need to invest in universal preschool as well as providing paid family leave, better-funded school transportation and after-school programs, and larger childcare tax breaks. She points out that childcare expenses are out of reach for many families, especially single-parent households where the parent may have no choice but to leave a job when they cannot afford childcare that will fit their work situation. Her ever-ready statistics show the average family with kids under 5 spending approximately 10 percent of their income on childcare, but that for lower-income families, this percent rises dramatically. And again, race does come into the equation. The cost of having two children in a childcare center amounts to 42 percent of the median income for the nation’s Black families.
While Porter’s plan wouldn’t be free, the estimated price tag — $775 billion over 10 years — proposed by Joe Biden for expanding both child and elder care (via CNBC) would only be slightly more than the $740.5 billion Trump requested for defense spending in the 2021 White House budget plan. As millions of bumper stickers (and this poster in the Library of Congress collection) have said, “It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our Air Force has to have a bake-sale to buy a bomber,” but Katie Porter and her whiteboard are determined to make sure that day comes sooner rather than later.
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