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Resolutions & Amendments

29th International Convention - Miami, FL (1990)

Child Care

Resolution No. 135
29th International Convention
June 25-29, 1990
Miami, FL


The American workforce has changed over the last several decades with the rapid entry of women into paid employment. In 1988, three out of five women with children under 18 years old worked outside the home; fifty-seven percent of married women with children under six years old worked outside the home. Half of all married mothers with infants younger than one year old are working — a 108 percent increase since 1970. One in every four working mothers is a single head of household; and


Like the American workforce, AFSCME has experienced profound demographic changes over the last 15 years. For example, over half of our 1.3 million members are women. Of all of our members, 45 percent are parents — nearly one in five have at least one child under seven years of age; 22 percent have children between 7 and 12; and many more have grandchildren; and


More women are working because they must help their families to in 1985, two out of three women in the paid labor force were either sit, till, heads of households or had husbands whose earnings were less than $15,000 per year. For many two-parent families, the second income is all that stands between the family and poverty. Thirty-five percent more two-parent families would live below the poverty line if both parents did not work. For single-parent families headed solely by a woman live in poverty; and


Many families are unable to rise out of poverty or are merely able to keep their heads above water because median earnings for Americans have dropped. Median earnings of family heads ages 30 to 64 fell 15 percent from 1973 to 1986. For family heads younger and 30, earnings slumped 30 percent; and


Child care costs constitute one of the largest household budget items comparable to housing and taxes. Costs can range from $2,400 a year to $9,000. For low-income families, child care costs take up a disproportionate share of their income compared with the average family. An average family spends about 10 percent of its income on child care, while low-income families spend nearly 25 percent; and


Even if every family could afford child care, there is not enough care of acceptable quality available to purchase. Infant care is in demand everywhere, both because of the large influx of new mothers into the paid work force and because infants require more attention and care than do older children. While there are more programs for 3- to 4-year-olds, they may be only part-day, so parents must patch together several arrangements for their children in one day; and


Care for school-age children is a major problem. The Department of Labor estimates that 52 percent of the 26.5 million children needing care are in elementary and junior high school. A recent study of 5,000 eighth-grade students found that children home alone after school were at greater risk of alcohol and substance abuse; and


There is no major federal child care program designed explicitly to help families pay for child care or to assist states in improving the quality and expanding the supply of child care. Funding for important federal programs that do exist — including Head Start and the Child Care Food Programs — have been far from adequate. Current federal tax subsidies reach too few families with too little help, and the federal government has failed to take steps to ensure child care quality or expand supply.


That AFSCME and its affiliates continue to push for a comprehensive federal child care bill, which would invest substantial new federal resources to help parents pay for quality child care and to help states improve the quality of child care and ensure that children are safe and protected while in care; and


That AFSCME and its affiliates continue to urge the federal government to increase funds for Head Start, and the Child Care Food Program; and


That AFSCME encourages its councils and locals to conduct a needs assessment of members to determine what their family needs are, including care of elderly parents or other relatives.

If family needs are identified through the survey, that the council or local work to establish child care or elder care programs at the worksite through collective bargaining; labor-management committees; state and local legislative initiatives; and coalitions made up of community groups, nonprofit child care providers, unions and others.


International Executive Board

Myron L. Miner, President, Delegate
Arlette Peterson, Secretary, Delegate
AFSCME Local 304, Council 28
Seattle, WA