Many people underestimate the costs of childcare. If you feel as though childcare is increasingly more these days, you’re not wrong! According to Care’s 2024 Cost of Care Report, the average daycare cost in America is $321 a week or $16,692 a year. While the average cost for in-home care (like a nanny) is $766 a week or $39,832 a year. 

Stats show that this financial burden is taking a toll on moms. Sixty six percent are paying more than $1,000 per month for childcare. Eighty two percent of moms under 30 say childcare is their primary reason for considering to leave the workforce. Fifty percent of stay-at-home moms point to the need for affordable childcare as the prerequisite for returning to or entering the workforce. 

Black Moms and Childcare

Affordable childcare is a major hurdle for many families. Mercy Badmos, founder and CEO of Girls’ Empowerment Matters GEM, Inc., agrees about the necessity for childcare. She shares that there’s a serious lack of accessible, high-quality, and affordable childcare options. This forces many moms to stay home. 

“When childcare costs more than what some jobs pay, it doesn’t make sense for many mothers to return to work,” she said. 

After giving birth, Badmos couldn’t afford childcare because it cost more than her salary. While on maternity leave, she was let go from her job. She had to get on public assistance and lived on less than $300 a month. Badmos couldn’t return to work until her baby was eligible for the free, 3-K for All program offered by NYC. This program provides free, full-day, high-quality early childhood education for 3-year-olds. 

“The financial strain and lack of affordable childcare options were overwhelming,” she explained. “Finding reliable childcare was also incredibly challenging.”

Badmos says the high costs and long waitlists made it difficult to secure a spot in a reputable daycare. Without affordable and reliable childcare, it was impossible for her to return to work. 

The Role of Employers

In the U.S. workforce, there is a missing link in support for moms returning to the workforce. Post-pregnancy, moms are expected to meet the same workload as they did pre-baby. While their capabilities may be the same, their responsibilities increase significantly. This can impact their confidence to work and succeed in their roles. 

Jaye Wilson, CEO of Melinated Moms, explains that employers play a critical role in supporting moms. Employers hold the essential responsibility to ensure their staff are able to show up at their best and find work-life balance. 

“The biggest missing piece is the lack of understanding of childcare needs,” Wilson said. “There’s also the barriers to obtaining childcare and the rising costs for both the parents and the childcare providers.”

After the pandemic, a large portion of the workforce requirements changed for childcare providers including staffing ratios, reimbursement rates, and cleaning protocols. 

“These changes actually closed the doors of a lot of providers and forced moms to leave the workforce,” she said.

Wilson also adds that employers should also prioritize creating family-friendly workplaces that encourage parents to share their experiences outside of the workplace.

Workplace Childcare Solutions 

Badmos points out that there are numerous solutions to truly support moms returning to the workforce after pregnancy: affordable childcare, comprehensive paid leave, flexible work options, on-site childcare, and supportive reintegration programs.

On-site childcare is specifically a critical need for moms. 

“When I suggest it, people often think it’s unrealistic, but it’s a practical solution that would make a huge difference,” Badmos said. “Being able to bring your child to work can ease the transition back to work and reduce the anxiety about childcare.”

As a parent, Badmos wished her former employer offered more work-from-home options. She says employers need to offer more flexible work arrangements, including remote work and flexible hours, to accommodate the needs of new parents.

“Flexibility is a missing piece,” she said. “In the modern age, many jobs can be done remotely; yet, there’s still an expectation to be physically present.” 

Badmos’ sister, Stephanie Obadare, agrees about the value of flexibility. As someone who faced numerous challenges balancing motherhood and a demanding job as a correction officer at Rikers Island, Obadare believes employers should offer flexible work hours, remote work options, and on-site childcare facilities. 

“The lack of comprehensive support systems for moms returning to the workforce after childbirth makes it exceedingly difficult for women to navigate their professional and personal responsibilities,” she said.