“Now my son is 14 months old and I would say the past year has been the most financially stressed we’ve ever been,” said Rapp. “The cost of full-time childcare would have been much higher than our mortgage, higher than my salary would have been able to take in.”

The high costs and lack of access to childcare is preventing many thousands of women from returning to the workforce in the United States despite a widespread labor shortage, the Guardian reports.

Childcare systems in America were already facing significant problems in terms of their expense, the low pay for workers, and lack of accessibility for families before to the pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened these issues as childcare centers were forced to shut down, and many closed permanently, have yet to reopen, or have lowered enrollment.

Jessica Rapp of Westminster, Colorado, gave birth to her first child in August 2020. Her job as a pediatric occupational therapist did not provide any paid maternity leave. She took 12 weeks off, unpaid, through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The financial difficulties began after she received high medical bills for the birth, even though she had health insurance. Rapp and her husband are still paying off the medical debt, while she has only been able to return to work part-time due to the high costs of childcare. The couple pays about $1,200 a month for two days of care a week.

“Now my son is 14 months old and I would say the past year has been the most financially stressed we’ve ever been,” said Rapp. “The cost of full-time childcare would have been much higher than our mortgage, higher than my salary would have been able to take in.”

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