Mothers Frequently Change Caregivers

THE vast majority of working mothers (90 percent) say they are satisfied with their present child-care arrangement. Yet 97 percent had to change their caregiver at least once within the past year; 48 percent had to shift their arrangement two or more times.

Those are findings of a nationwide survey of 1,733 working mothers conducted by Working Mother magazine. It also shows that of babies six months to one year of age, 25 percent have had two or more different caregivers since birth.

Working mothers see a connection between low wages of caregivers and the high turnover rate - the average annual salary of a preschool teacher is $11,500 and the average hourly wage of a family day-care provider is $4.04.

Many caregivers could "earn more money waiting tables, parking cars, or grooming pets," says Marcy Whitebook, executive director of the Child Care Employee Project.

For the nation, child care takes up 10 percent of the family budget. Among families with incomes of $50,000 and more, child-care costs on average 6 percent of income. But in families with incomes under $15,000, child care can consume 22 to 25 percent of the family budget.

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