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Childcare access, quality boosts Indiana ranking for working moms

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(The Center Square) – A recent study found that even as Indiana ranks as one of the top states nationally for child care, it can still do more to help address the concerns of working moms.

The Hoosier State ranked No. 17 in WalletHub’s Best & Worst States for Working Moms report. The personal financial site reviewed child care, professional opportunities and work-life balance in each state and the District of Columbia, using 17 data points to determine the rankings.

In terms of child care, Indiana finished fifth in the nation. That ranking came before state lawmakers took steps to address other issues within child care during this year’s General Assembly session.

Legislators passed Senate Bill 2, which calls for the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to report to lawmakers about funds devoted to supporting child care through state and federal programs. It also calls on the state’s Family and Social Services Administration to publish monthly updates online about child care subsidies available to Hoosier families.

Lawmakers also passed House Bill 1102, which set limits on the number of infants that can be served in a child care setting, permits some child care centers to be eligible for voucher payments and allows some school-based programs to work with businesses for child care services.

The state, though, was 38th for professional opportunities and 30th for work-life balance. Every other state among the top five for childcare finished in the top five overall.

Indiana’s highest rank came in its share of nationally accredited childcare centers. It finished seventh with 17% having an accreditation. The state’s daycare quality and school system quality finished 11th overall.

One of the biggest issues Indiana faces is the gender pay gap. WalletHub found that Hoosier women earn just 77.6 cents for each dollar a man earns. That discrepancy was fifth-worst nationally, well below the U.S. average at 82%.

Judith A. Myers-Walls, a professor emerita of human development and family studies at Purdue University, noted that people who have hourly jobs that aren’t ” careers” may find it more difficult to balance the needs of their work and their home.

“For work that is an hourly job and not a career, there is often little flexibility, and there are few, if any, benefits,” Myers-Walls said. “If you miss work for any reason, you do not get paid and could lose the job. Many studies have identified flexibility of hours, location, and scheduling as primary factors that help with balance and increase job satisfaction.”

She added that many new mothers are choosing self-employment to get flexibility. Still, even that can come with some sacrifices, such as the lack of socialization with other adults and a potential loss of benefits.

When compared to neighboring states, only Illinois, which came in 15th, finished ahead of Indiana. Kentucky was 25th, while Ohio and Michigan were 35th and 36th, respectively.

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