Giving Compass' Take:
- Large farm organizations are starting to include childcare access to rural farmers as a policy priority in the 2023 federal Farm Bill.
- How can childcare access help rural families increase their wages? What are the long-term impacts of limited affordable childcare options?
- Here are four challenges that will shape the next farm bill.
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"The United States has a child-care crisis, yet the issue remains largely invisible in the farm sector. For too long, the nation has ignored the fact that farm parents are working parents who must juggle child care while working what can be one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs in America," write Shoshanah Inwood and Florence Becot of Ohio State for The Conversation, a platform for jouralism by academics.
But that could change, now that two farm lobbies that are often at odds are on the same page for funding child care. "For the first time in history, the two largest farm organizations, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, have included child care in their policy priorities for the 2023 federal Farm Bill," Inwood and Becot report. "As rural researchers, our conversations with policymakers suggest that there may be bipartisan support to help increase access to affordable quality rural child care as lawmakers hear from families."
Inwood and Becot report that in the last 10 years, they have done research that "debunks the three most common myths that have kept child care in the shadows of farm policy debates and points to solutions that can support farm parents." Those are: "Child care is a not a problem in the farm sector . . . Farmers don’t want or need help with child care because they have family help [and] children can just come along when doing farm work." They elaborate:
"Nationally, three-quarters of farm families with children under 18 report difficulties securing child care because of lack of affordability, availability or quality. Almost half report that having access to affordable child care is important for maintaining and growing their farm business. . . . Almost half of farmers we surveyed said their own parents were too busy to help with child care, had died or were in declining health. . . . While wonderful places to grow up, farms can be dangerous, with large equipment, electric fencing, large animals, ponds and other potential hazards. Every day, 33 children are seriously injured in agricultural-related incidents, and every three days a child dies on a farm. Farm parents we spoke with recounted stories of children who died after falling out of a tractor, drowned when they fell into a pond, or were maimed by a cow. Almost all farm parents – 97% – have worried that their children could get hurt on the farm."
Read the full article about affordable childcare by Al Cross at The Rural Blog.