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Childcare: It’s about costly necessity not 'having it all,' study suggests

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Reuters Photo/John Gress

(Read caption) Childcare is less about "having it all" than being forced into a difficult family budgeting choice, a new study suggests. A high school student returns to school Sept. 19, 2012 after a teachers' strike ended, thrilling parents who had to stay home from work to care for their kids, pay for alternative childcare or leave them with friends and relatives.

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Forget the Marissa Mayer controversy. Sure, the critics pounced when Yahoo!’s new, pregnant CEO let it be known that she did not intend to spend more than a week or two on maternity leave. They worried that Ms. Mayer was setting a bad example – that professionally driven women really couldn't take time out to be mom; that she was striking a blow to that “having it all” ideal (wherever that came from); that she was doing a disservice to herself and her baby.

But that all misses the point, a number of advocates are saying. Just take a look at a new National Women’s Law Center report out this week, which evaluates child care assistance availability across the country.

For hundreds of thousands of American women, this, and not the Yahoo boardroom, is where the conversation about going back to work begins. And it is a conversation that is getting harder.

To step back here a moment: Although you wouldn’t know it from the commentary surrounding Mayer, for many American women, maternity leave is less a philosophical choice than a decision influenced by employer policies and child care expenses.

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