A new report from the Center for American Progress details the struggles many American families face in accessing and affording quality child care for their children during summer months. In fact, the report shows that families can expect to pay at least 20 percent of their household income on child care services during the summer.

Part of the report highlights the unique struggles that parents with children from birth through age 5 face. CAP notes that many parents cannot afford to enroll children in early care programs for even part of the summer – often requiring them to coordinate multiple programs and turn to unreliable alternatives, including impromptu arrangements with family members or friends.

“Among preschoolers with working mothers, the share of children without regular child care increased nearly four-fold from spring 2005 to summer 2006—from 11 percent to 42 percent. For grade school-aged children with working mothers, the increase was more modest but still significant—37 percent to 49 percent.”

Access to affordable and reliable child care is critical for working families, offering parents better job stability and overall economic security. Unfortunately, the need to access this critical support far outpaces their current capacity, and many families across the country cannot afford the cost of quality child care. Without access to early learning and care, parents tend to miss work, lowering household incomes and potentially leading to job loss.

In the first few years of life, more than one million new neural connections form every second in a child’s developing brain. These connections form the foundation for future behavior, learning, and health. Early childhood experiences from birth through age five play a critical role in healthy brain development, so it’s important that a child’s access to quality learning experiences doesn’t stop when school is out during the summer months.

Families need affordable, high-quality child care options all year long.

Read the full Center for American Progress report here.