Marcia Meyers

Marcia K. Meyers is professor of social work and public affairs at the University of Washington.

Recent Articles

Child-Care Pay, Child-Care Quality

Decent early childhood education requires well-trained and compensated educators.

Higher quality of early education and child care will require a better-paid and better-qualified work force. Making progress in these areas is also a matter of economic justice and of employment equality for the overwhelmingly female child-care work force. The estimated 2.5 million adults who are paid to care for children are among the lowest earners in the U.S. According to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by the Center for the Child Care Workforce, the average annual income of workers in child-care centers was just more than $18,000 in 2004 -- nearly $27,000 less than kindergarten teachers, and some $35,550 less than flight attendants. The estimated 76 percent of all paid child-care providers who work in homes earn even less than those who work in centers. Paid child care has increased steadily in recent decades. Between 1985 and 1999, the percentage of all families with employed mothers who paid for care for their children (from birth to age 14) grew from 34 percent...

The European Model

To judge from public debates on everything from marriage promotion to educational standards, the United States is exceptionally concerned with the well-being of children. But as American families struggle to balance work and family demands, our government is doing little to help. Parents in countries such as Sweden and France also balance work and family responsibilities. In fact, rates of maternal employment are as high or higher in these countries than in the United States. But parents in these countries are managing competing demands with significantly more help from government. Three areas of work-family reconciliation policies are particularly important: paid parenting leaves that allow mothers and fathers to care for infants without forfeiting their jobs or income; working time policies that increase options for high-quality, reduced-hour, and part-time employment; and publicly subsidized or provided early-childhood care and education programs. All of the western European...

How Welfare Offices Undermine Welfare Reform

Welfare and related policy reforms adopted by Congress in the 1990s seemed to strike an implicit bargain with low-wage working families. Parents were expected to meet their "personal responsibility" for supporting themselves and their children by leaving welfare and going to work. If they did, government would help out by providing a package of income, health insurance, and child care assistance to "make work pay," even for low earners. Four years out, there is disquieting evidence that government is not keeping its side of the bargain--largely because we have failed to develop the appropriate administrative systems and capacity to deliver assistance to the working poor. This ostensibly bureaucratic failure happens to serve the goal of many elected officials to avoid spending money on the poor. But if our commitment to "end welfare as we know it" without impoverishing families is genuine, these administrative problems must be addressed. To understand why low-income working families...