Farmers are not exempt from childcare challenges

A new nationwide study is providing insight into childcare challenges in farm families and across rural communities.

Ohio State University rural sociologist Shoshanah Inwood tells Brownfield access to affordable, quality childcare is a significant issue for young farmers.

“I think one of the biggest myths that we’ve actually come across in this research is there’s an idea in agriculture that childcare is just not an issue for farmers, that there’s lots of family around to care for the kids, and yet you can also bring the kids to work,” she says.  “But in fact, we know that farms, while very wonderful places to grow up, are in fact very dangerous places.”

Nine in ten farm families in the survey said they are concerned their children could get hurt on the farm. 

“And we’ve had farmers say to us, why is it that farming is the only occupation where you’re expected to take your child to work?” she adds.

She says both parents in farm families today are working and oftentimes so are grandparents.  Childcare trade-offs Inwood says can also limit the farm’s ability to grow.

“Do you spend the money to send the kid to childcare, which can be very, very expensive, right?” she questions.  “Or do you stay home yourself to take care of your child and hire a farm employee who then you have to train and figure out what that wage will be in order to grow the farm business?”

Inwood says rural areas are more likely to be childcare deserts which can compound access challenges.

For the first time, both the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union have made access to affordable, quality childcare a farm bill priority.

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