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Annual Golf Tournament - LCHH Group

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Melthucelha Smith
Melthucelha Smith

The True Cost

Throughout the film, Morgan shows people who defend the low-cost prices such as Benjamin Powell of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University[1] and Kate Ball-Young, former sourcing manager of Joe Fresh.[9][12] Ball-Young says that, in comparison to more precarious alternative work, the fashion industry is a good choice for workers.[7][12] Powell argues sweatshops are "part of the very process that raises living standards and leads to better working conditions over time".[3] In contrast, the film shows a Texas organic cotton farmer, eco fashion activist Livia Firth and her sustainability-focused consulting firm,[13][20] and people who manage fair trade clothing companies, such as animal-rights activist Stella McCartney,[20] People Tree's Safia Minney, Redress's Christina Dean, and Patagonia's Vincent Stanley.[3][21][22]

The True Cost

This analytical model contains the key calculations, data sources, and assumptions that we used to account for the human health, environmental, societal, and economic impacts of the food system. We believe it represents a critical, but limited, first step in completing a full true cost accounting of food in the U.S. There is much more work to do and we invite all interested partners to continue building, improving, and expanding the model we made available here.

To more quickly and effectively transform the food system, it is imperative that we find ways to integrate a true cost framework into decision-making and interventions across sectors. A compilation of recommendations from the experts we spoke to, this searchable database of interventions contains a wide array of meaningful ways to reduce the true cost of food and optimize benefits.

Data from the interactive illustrate why increased public investment in child care is so necessary. On average, the true cost of licensed child care for an infant is 43 percent more than what providers can be reimbursed through the child care subsidy program and 42 percent more than the price programs currently charge families. To build and invest in a child care system that meets the needs of children, families, and the broader economy, is it critical for the federal government to provide funding at a level sufficient to cover the true cost.

The updated interactive, available at, includes the most recent data on child care workforce salaries and state licensing requirements. For the first time, it also integrates estimates for home-based family child care and data for several U.S. territories, allowing for a more robust analysis. Full data assumptions and sources are available in the accompanying methodology.23

Using data from the updated interactive, Figure 1 illustrates the average estimated monthly cost of child care in the United States for a child care center and a family child care home that meets state licensing standards. The cost of care for an infant is significantly higher than the cost for older children due to the smaller group size and adult-to-child ratios that are necessary for younger children. (Note: Family child care costs are not broken out by age due to the program operating as a single classroom serving multiple age groups of children.)

At just over $1,300 per month, families with infants would need to pay nearly $16,000 per year on average to cover the true cost of child care. Not only is this approximately 21 percent of the U.S. median income for a family of three, but it also comes at a time when families can least afford it.24

In addition to estimating the cost of a program meeting licensing standards, the interactive can also estimate the cost of a high-quality child care program that pays higher compensation, has lower teacher-child ratios, allows for more planning time for teachers, and provides a larger and better resourced learning environment. Table 1 provides results for each state and territory at a baseline of quality, or base quality, where the program meets minimum licensing standards, as well as for a high-quality scenario where all options in the interactive are selected.

While the data in Table 1 demonstrate that high-quality child care costs significantly more than the current baseline, it is important to recognize where that additional funding goes. Using the underlying data from the interactive, it is possible to analyze the breakdown of expenses across five major categories. While the higher-quality scenario costs $1,073 more per month, Figure 2 illustrates that 84 percent, or $900, of this increase goes to the workforce through increased salary and benefits.

Table 2 details a sample budget of an infant classroom in a hypothetical child care program, using data from the interactive. With parents paying $1,300 per month per child, providers have just under $82,000 available to cover salaries and benefits over the year. If the infant classroom is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., 10 hours a day, and has two teachers at all times, this translates into around $31 per hour to cover the salary and benefits of not only those two teachers but also the nonclassroom personnel who support program operations. This is inadequate to pay staff a living wage and illustrates that despite the high cost to families, the economics of child care mean that the teachers in this scenario are still likely to qualify for public assistance.

Each state conducts a survey of providers as part of the process for setting child care subsidy rates. The results of these surveys provide data on the current market prices charged to private-pay families. Comparing these data to the results from the cost of child care interactive at both the base-quality level and the higher-quality level shows that the market price of center-based infant child care does not cover the estimated true cost of care that meets base quality or licensing standards, let alone the cost of a higher-quality program, in any state. In FCC settings, the same holds true for all but one state. Table 3 presents the comparisons between the most recent market price data and the estimated cost of quality for each state. Table 4 makes the same comparison but for FCC homes.27

Under CCDF requirements, states must set subsidy rates at a level that ensures equal access to the same services for children receiving a subsidy as those who are not receiving a subsidy. While equal access is not defined, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that states set rates at the 75th percentile of the most recent market rate.28 As of 2020, only the state of Maine sets rates at this level.29 Insufficient subsidy rates create a significant gap between the estimated cost of care and the amount providers can receive in reimbursement through the subsidy system, leaving programs that serve children who qualify for government assistance with limited funds to invest in program quality. Although there are significant variations across states, on average, subsidies cover only 75 percent of the cost of licensed care for an infant in a child care center and 66 percent of the cost in a family child care home. For high-quality child care, the subsidy covers, on average, only 42 percent of the cost for an infant in a child care center and 29 percent for an infant in an FCC home.

For too long, child care providers have barely been getting by, providing an essential service to children, families, and employers while simultaneously undervalued by a society that has not adequately invested in a critical piece of infrastructure for working families. A significant and ongoing public investment is needed to pay for the true cost of providing high-quality child care.

With strategic government support, states can address the deficiencies and unintended consequences of the current market and ensure equitable access to child care. All states should use additional public investment to set subsidy rates based on the true cost of care, rather than current market price. This increased investment will create better wages, a more stable educator workforce, and sustainable systems for children, families, and communities. Research has shown that this investment pays for itself several times over, with increased public investment in child care directly affecting maternal labor force participation,32 providing increased educational and socio-emotional benefits for children, and boosting pay and employment opportunities for the early childhood workforce.33

This report expertly "reveals that the costs of incarceration run deeper than budget line items and extend far beyond the sentences served. Whether behind bars or returning home, people who have experienced incarceration are a part of families - whether chosen or blood related - to whom them contribute and by whom they are supported. Families pay both the apparent and hidden costs while their loved ones serve out sentences and for a long time after. Our research found that families struggle to afford exorbitant financial costs while also dealing with intense emotional and physical trauma when a loved one is taken away." Sections following an executive summary include: introduction; the true costs of the punitive criminal justice system-challenge of meeting basic needs (i.e., court fees and fines, challenges to building economic stability (i.e., employment, education, public benefits, and housing), challenges to maintaining relationships and family stability (i.e., costs of maintaining contact, family separation, and parent-child relationships), and challenges to health during incarceration and beyond (i.e., health impacts of incarceration); recommendations-restructure and reinvest, remove barriers, and restore opportunities; and conclusion.

After 10 years, multiplied across two cars since they have different work schedules, this decision would cost them about $125,000 in wealth (if they had for example chosen to put the $19/day into extra payments on their mortgage), and 1.3 working years worth of time, EACH, spent risking their lives daily behind the wheel*. 041b061a72


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