Caring for children can be substantially rewarding opportunities for mothers to bond with their children, but child care responsibilities can also hamper women’s’ participation in the local business economy. Mothers who care for their children are providing an essential resource, yet studies have shown that allowing women options for day care so that they can pursue careers outside the home can have and positive economic impact. Unfortunately, though, the access to this outside care is not as easy to achieve as it should be. The value of child care is horridly undervalued in modern society: not only do some consider the in-home care of children as menial “women’s work,” others set the salaries of certified, trained day care workers so low that the professional role is not viable as a long-term career. As a result, there are too few child care teachers, which limits supply and drives up tuitions at day care facilities to the point that it forces many mothers to choose to care for their children rather than pursue their career. If women could have access however to quality, affordable childcare, they might feel more empowered to pursue careers and enter the workforce, thereby benefiting their family and their community at large. Fortunately, day care initiatives around the globe are taking root to help women care for their children and also cultivate their own careers, suggesting a new era of empowering working mothers is on the rise. American InitiativesIn a landscape where some are subjected to a child care desert and others must pay up to 40% of a single mother’s salary to acquire day care, American moms must face substantial obstacles to obtaining day care. Though poised on the cusp of a universal child care program in the mid-20th century – one was tested as part of the Lantham Act during the 1940s in part to free up mothers to work as part of the wartime effort – the United States government never followed through. The result today is a market where today, according to Time Money, the average household pays $196 a week for day care. This figure, extrapolated across a years’ time frame, results in an annual cost that meets or surpasses state university tuition in three-fifths of these United States.Positive trends toward subsidized child care emerged during the presidency of Barak Obama, who made great strides in the field of early education finance reform. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama built in a $2 billion boon to childcare program funding for programs like Head Start to encourage more families (and working moms) to take advantage of lower cost, higher quality child care options. Just before leaving office, President Obama also enacted new performance standards for Head Start schools in an effort to ensure they provide a comprehensive early education at a much more affordable rate. So, while working moms in the United States still don’t have universal access to free and certified health care, it is clear that many Americans want to see women have the opportunity to break through any financial barriers of child care that might otherwise limit their careers. International Initiatives While the disparities in child care options are even more pronounced in some foreign countries, the same issue is nevertheless at play: women don’t have affordable, quality day care options for their children, the access to which would allow them to pursue potentially fruitful careers outside of the home. Encouragingly, even more initiatives to boost child care options have been studied and implemented in some of the most economically stratified countries. An initiative in Mexico, for example, called the Estancias Program offered 90% subsidized child care to working mothers; as a result, they charted an 18% growth in the number of those moms that were able in turn to seek beneficial employment. In other countries, such as Zimbabwe, simple community conversations about the value of women in the workplace target the eventual cultural shift toward a model in which child care is not simply relegated to mothers. As these programs both national and international suggest, the path toward empowering women to achieve their professional goals can begin with recognition that child care is both essential and invaluable to the success of future generations. Working mothers should not have to choose between their careers and their children; rather, women should feel the support of their community as both a mother and a professional, and this support can be fostered with the understanding of the value that women can provide the community. Sources:”Unpaid care and women’s empowerment: Lessons from research and practice.” Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women (GROW). Sara Mead, “Obama’s Early Childhood Education Legacy.” Us News and World Report, 13 January 2017. Kerri Anne Renzulli, “This is How Much the Average American Spends on Childcare.” Time Money, 9 August 2016. Besty Stevenson, “An ‘Experiment’ in Universal Child Care in the United States: Lessons from the Lantham Act.” The Obama White House Archives, 22 January 2015. Conor P. Williams, “The History of the United States’ Nearly-Universal Childcare Program.” New America, 24 January 2014.