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June 30, 2014

How to Tell Your Story to the President

Dear Members and Readers,

Last week, I had the tremendous honor and privilege to represent families like yours at the White House Summit on Working Families. I was invited to participate in one of the panels and then joined President Obama in a CEO roundtable discussion about how companies can help families deal with care challenges, including cost.

It was a powerful, exhilarating and humbling experience and I was keenly aware that my role there was not simply to represent but to represent all of our members who wrestle with care on a daily basis.  Companies are just starting to be aware of how important it is to support families at home by providing care benefits. Care is the single largest expense for most families – often higher than education and even housing. And it also accounts for real loss in productivity and advancement as families struggle to balance childcare, senior care and other issues at home while remaining focused on work.

This loss of productivity, combined with the high cost of care has a real and tangible impact on economic growth, not just for families but for our country as a whole. Here are a few of the statistics from the research we recently conducted about the cost of care.

  • The average US family spends about $18,000 a year on childcare, more than any other budgetary item
  • 75% of families told us they were surprised and overwhelmed when learning what care would cost
  • 42% of families don’t budget for child care

We also found how variable this cost can be nationwide. For example, in Boston, two children in day care can cost an average of $664 a week, whereas a nanny would be about $531. And San Francisco’s average for daycare is $440 a week, whereas a nanny is $580.

And unlike other kinds of spending, care is not discretionary, it is essential. In this country, 63% of families have two parents working, so care is not optional, but even with two incomes, many families still struggle to cover the costs.

This is exactly why the White House Summit was convened. To have an open, candid dialogue with decision makers in government and business leaders across industries to focus on the problems and more importantly, start to identify some solutions. Key topics mentioned throughout the day included paid parental leave – where the US is lagging the rest of the developed world – and flex-time and back up care programs.  But I don’t need to tell you, solving these issues would just be a start to this complex issue.

So what can we do? The President understands that child care is a critical issue for working families and I can tell you that he was sincere and impassioned as he spoke to us during the roundtable asking us to help him and Congress solve it. The good news is that there are numerous companies across the country who are blazing a new trail when it comes to innovative policies and programs that support their employees’ care needs.  We’re learning from them and expect that they will inspire other employers to follow suit.  And we have promised the President that we will report back to him on that front.

I want to hear your stories. And I would love to share them with the President and the CEOs I’m working with to create a proposal for a national care solution.

Here’s what I hope you will do: Email me your care stories. Tell me what your family has been through paying for care, whether it’s for a child or a senior. Tell me how your work has handled your leave and what support you have from your office to care for children or a parent. What benefits and policies does your employer offer you?  What would make it easier?  What would reduce your stress about care? What should companies be implementing?  Email me your thoughts, stories and concerns at

This country needs proper care structures in place for our economy to grow. At, we always say that when it’s working at home, it’s working at work. It’s exhilarating to see that this all-important topic is now front-page news. Conversations are taking place. is involved and I want to be sure I truly represent you all. Your stories can make a huge impact. Your stories can help us all influence real change for all families and their loved ones. 

Thank you,



bonnie dudley

President Obama? That caring man? Like he cares for the families of the Benghazi victims he and Hillary LIED about?

Mike Maier

Full time care giver for both parents.
This is my occupation now. More important
than any job. I Down sized, made my house
a rental to pay the mortgage. We share a
home now.
I care for mom in the latter stages of ALZ
and father with pain management and
other health issues. I manage the medication,
meals, house, appointments and care. It is
not easy and I am aging as well. Will I be taking
their place when my care for them has run
it's course. Then who will care for me.

jaime gutierrez

My five year old daughter was sexually molested in a foster home. Why can't there be extensive search on who lives in those homes? Two of the young men there would go into my daughters room at night. While the foster dad was sleeping. Now my daughter is going through so much because of this. There is no help here in Tucson. No one seems to care that this happened to a brown child. No therapy or counseling. They were not going to investigate. I had to contact the mayor for them to get off their butt and investigate. I am an adult. I can take the abuse that this city has to dish out. I have done so for 7 months. But why did they have to punish my daughter by placing her with two pedophiles?

Jean Townsend

Sheila, I believe childcare and perhaps adult care in some cases has always been an expense that goes along with working parents. I paid for childcare for a number of years and I made sure it was in our budget. I have been among the fortunate people who have been priviledged to make a good salary, thus I could afford childcare. I on the other hand, resent government getting involved in my business and my family's business when it comes to care. I believe in the private sector. The government is already overreaching too extensively in our lives and those of our children. When we accept handouts from the government then we must also accept their agenda and their programs - which generally "suck." Yes, I wrote the word "suck." As someone who's been an educator, I've seen the dismal results of government-run schools and facilities. There are many families in need of childcare - but when you take into consideration how much say a wife can actually profit from working after childcare expenses, it's not worth the trouble for her to work! I think families need to seriously consider whether it's worth both parents working - if I'm in the "hole" after paying childcare, then I'm choosing not to work. If, all I'm clearing after gas, childcare, clothing, etc is a few dollars a week, then, is it worth it? Absolutely not. But I don't believe our government should foot the bill either. What, I believe is that our tax dollars that go to fund local schools should also fund childcare starting at age 3 for everyone regardless of income, because property tax is a non-discrimatory tax. We all pay the same percentage until we reach age 65. Our local school taxes are the largest portion of our property taxes. By adding a few cents more to the property tax rate, then diverting that percentage to our childcare, many women would probably return to the workforce. I believe a woman should stay home with her children when they're young, but I also know that most families in this country have come to depend on two-salaries. I've worked for many years and paid childcare for many years, so I certainly can empathize, but I never expected my state or my country to pay for me to work....


I live in a rural mountainous area where there are three daycares that take children below the age of two. They are quite expensive about 900 a month for a single child, and are only open from 7am to 530pm. My two youngest are 5 and 1.5 years old. There is only one daycare two daycares that take children between the ages of 5-7.

While there are some places that pay very well, most pay about 10 dollars an hour.
In the type of work I do, rotating shifts/mandatory overtime/weekends are often required to even get a job.
I would love to coop or work part time in a meaningful way, not just at grocery store or as a barista. I have a master's degree and would like to use it.
I have spent so much money on my education and it is just languishing because between the amount of taxes my husband and I pay and paying for daycare I would have to pay to work.
Then, what if a child gets sick? And I have to take off work. My husband would not be able to because he works 2hours away from the house.
It is a lose-lose situation, and I do not want to be a SAHM.

Sara Stephens

My story is a statistic. I got pregnant at 17. Graduated high school 7 months pregnant. Started college a month after she was born. Became a nationally certified Phlebotomist and a medical assistant with an associates degree. I am 21 and now have 2 babies. My fiance cant work because he is a stay at home daddy. He is great at it but living on just my paycheck hurts alot. He can't get a job or even start his schooling because we can't afford child care. We live with his mother in a 2 bedroom single wide.8 people live in this house with 2 dogs 3 cats and a guinea pig. Our only pet is the guinea pig. I am also currently trying to get not only food assitance but assistance to help buy a home for the 4 of us. If the president knew more about families like mine, I don't know. Maybe things could be a little brtter. I don't like asking for help or want handouts. But I feel I am going to be stuck in this spot forever.
Sara and family.

David Helmers

Tell him to resign or get impeached for treason!

Ask him to take in all the children that he and Michelle are allowing to cross the border from Mexico. He can pass his wisdom onto them and Michelle can teach them how to grow a vegetable garden!

This influx of illegals is absurd! Who will pay for it?

Just sayin!

Becca K

First healthcare (which is failing miserably), now child care? What else would you like the government to provide?

The People's Republic of China and USSR failed for a reason. Government control is failed policy.

Shame on you for supporting this propaganda.

If you can't pay for the basic needs of your children, don't have them. Or, here is a novel idea, WAIT to have kids until you can afford them!

I know personal responsibility and accountability is a bygone concept, but it's not rocket science.


We have a wonderful daughter who is multiply disabled. Although I have the potential to be a good wage earner I am her primary caregiver and not able to go out to work. Our budget is extremely tight. By God's math and grace we are making ends meet. I don't think its a good idea for the government to become more involved with our lives. I've sought out help thru government agencies only to find that the majority of the money that is allocated to the poor and disabled goes to cover the cost of employees and paperwork. Also, the folks in these positions want to help but they are not properly trained or prepared to provide the kind of care required. I say let the people keep their tax dollars and use it as they see fit. The government has way too many reasons to tax us as much as they do already. Tax payers need a break. I also believe that if more people were able to keep their earned money they would be more apt to volunteer and or be more interested in helping the folks in their own communities who need it. Thank you.

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