Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
Working families was a main focus in President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, with an emphasis on helping parents ease the financial struggles of raising kids.
Last night, the President shared the story of one couple, Rebekah and Ben Erler, who raised two sons through tough times. In sharing their story, President Obama said, “America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled.”
Rebekah and Ben’s story also became the foundation for the President to segue into other important family concerns, which included the following goals.
Goal: Affordable, High-Quality Child Care
For families like the Erlers who need (but can’t afford) outside help to care for their kids, the President promised to make “affordable, high-quality child care” more available. “It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us,” he said.
Goal: A New Tax Cut for Children
In order to make affordable child care a possibility, the President supported “lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.” As a step toward this direction, he proposed “a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.” He also proposed closing tax loopholes that allowed America’s one percent to evade paying taxes in order to “help more families pay for child care and send their kids to college.”
Goal: Paid Sick Leave and Paid Maternity Leave
Forty-three million people in the U.S. do not get paid sick leave, a shocking statistic that the President shared. “Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers,” he said. “And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.”
To implement paid sick leave and paid maternity leave, the President already started the ball rolling. Last week, he announced that federal employees would be getting up to six weeks of paid maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child, which he hoped to expand to more moms across America. And he’s supporting a new act that will give employees up to seven paid sick days in a year.
Goal: Free Community College
The 2013 and 2014 State of the Union addresses focused on providing universal pre-K to America, allowing kids to have free schooling before kindergarten. This year, the President focused more on higher education.
To ensure that kids have the opportunity to attend college without fear of debt, the President promised “to lower the cost of community college — to zero.” Because 40 percent of kids choose to attend community college, he saw value in showing kids “that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today.” In cutting costs, Obama hoped to reduce the burden of college loans, “so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.”
Goal: Online Privacy for Children
With the increase in cyberbullying and hacking, the President also made online privacy a priority, stating that no one should have the right to “invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids.” He promised to combat cyber threats and urged Congress “to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.” (Side note: This past week, Illinois passed a law that allowed schools and universities to request a student’s social media password.)
The President also conveyed some trademark words of hope, stressing that his goals would help “hardworking families make ends meet.” Ultimately, he said, “I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids.”
Read the full transcript of the 2015 State of the Union Address.
Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children’s picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea
Image: President Obama giving the 2015 State of the Union Address at the White House via the official White House Twitter account
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Child Health, Education, Parenting News
Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
A new study comparing college tuition with family income has found that tuition has more than doubled relative to income in the past four decades. More from Newsweek:
That cost includes tuition, fees, and room and board for full-time students at degree-granting institutions—for both public and private colleges and universities. Back then, the average cost came to $9,502 after adjusting for inflation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2012, the average was $19,339. With a typical family earning $51,017—the U.S. median income—college tuition for just one child will absorb almost 40 percent of their income. That surpasses housing as the single biggest household expense.
If college costs were rising along with family income, there wouldn’t be a problem. But college costs have risen way ahead of income. There are several reasons. For starters, administration costs have been growing rapidly on most campuses. In part this has to do with an explosion in applications and enrollments, which require more resources. But salaries of administrators, particularly those in charge, seem out of line with the rest of the institution. It’s not unheard of for compensation of the president of a large university to approach $1 million. Meanwhile, campuses have seen a boom in infrastructure spending to upgrade student facilities like gyms, student centers and dorms. Finally, many public universities have offset cuts in state aid by raising fees.
Of course, the price of college varies greatly depending on where you go, and whether the institution is public or private. Almost three-quarters of Americans attend public universities and colleges, where costs have been rising quickly but still remain far less than private institutions. In 1969, public colleges and universities charged an average of $7,206, compared with $14,292 in 2012, after adjusting for inflation. By contrast, private institutions averaged $15,329 back then, vs. $33,047 in 2012.
Today, the cost of a private college or university would be unattainable for most families if they didn’t get substantial financial aid. At elite colleges and universities, the cost is considerably more than what a typical family earns. Without financial aid, a single year at Princeton can set you back $58,965.
Image: Money, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
A growing number of young adults are stuck in what analysts are calling a “worst case scenario,” in which they are stifled by debt from college loans, but they never finished their degrees. More from NBC News:
According to a 2011 study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, only 56 percent of students who enter four-year programs graduate within six years. That number plunges to 22 percent for for-profit colleges. Meanwhile, the percentage of incoming students relying on loans is growing—from 2001 to 2009, the number increased from 47 percent to 53 percent, according to a report by Education Sector. The same report also found that borrowers who drop out are four times more likely to default on their loans.
Some of these dropouts grew up middle class with an expectation of getting a degree, like [Christopher and Harmony] Glenn. Others are students from low-income backgrounds, perhaps the first in their families to go to college. Michelle Obama recently launched an effort to encourage these first-timers to pursue higher education, but the odds are stacked against them: Pell grants and funding for state and city universities continue to shrink. Forty percent of students at four-year colleges, and 60 percent at community colleges, are working 20 hours or more to make up for these gaps, according to the Pell Institute.
“A lot of these kids come up against this wall of bureaucracy,” said Jennifer Silva, author of Coming Up Short, a book about working-class young adults. “They lack mentors to help them navigate the system” of admissions, financial aid, and choosing classes. “It ends up leaving them feeling kind of betrayed.”
Image: College debt, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
The cost of center-based child care exceeds the cost of tuition at state colleges in a number of states, due as much to rising child care costs as to slightly declining state college tuitions. More from CNN Money:
Last year, average center-based child care costs rose by nearly 3% nationwide, according to a report from the nonprofit Child Care Aware of America. Full-time care for an infant ranged from a high of $16,430 a year in Massachusetts to $4,863 in Mississippi. Meanwhile, center-based care for a four-year-old hit a high of $12,355 in Massachusetts and a low of $4,312 in Mississippi.
Why such huge price disparities? Blame it on differences in labor costs, state regulations and cost of living expenses, such as housing, food and utilities.
For example, Massachusetts has strict child care regulations that require one teacher for every three infants, compared to one teacher per five infants in Mississippi. Meanwhile, child care centers in New York City, among one of the most expensive places for child care in the country, pay significantly higher rents and also must meet strict state standards.
“In order to meet those (standards), it costs money,” said Jessica Klos Shapiro, public policy and communications coordinator at the nonprofit Early Care & Learning Council, which advocates for families across New York state.
The centers are also grappling with ballooning operational costs, ranging from rising insurance costs to higher food prices, said Lynette Fraga, Child Care Aware’s executive director.
As a result, child care costs grew by as much as eight times the rate of family incomes last year, the report said. And they continue to take a major chunk out of family budgets, often representing a household’s largest monthly expense.
Find out if your child’s development is on track with our handy growth charts. Then, check out the 10 BEST apps for preschoolers.
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Image: Kids at day care, via Shutterstock
Friday, April 26th, 2013
A growing number of American high school students are expanding their college searches to include Canadian universities that offer quality educations without the staggering pricetags many American colleges carry. NBC News has more:
About one in six people who owe money on their student loans is in default. Such a debt load is a harsh reality that is forcing a growing number of young people to look north to Canada for an education they can better afford.
Six percent of McGill’s student body is American, and the ranks are growing. The number of U.S. students at Canadian colleges rose 50 percent in a decade, and now about 10,000 Americans attend Canadian colleges, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.
That institute also says graduates from an American university can expect, on average, to carry more than $26,000 in debt. And about 9 percent of those grads default on student loans within two years.
The largest cost of going to school in the United States is the tuition, which is astronomical compared to Canada. At schools such as the University of Chicago and New York University, the annual tuition tops $40,000, far above their Canadian counterparts, which benefit from a tradition of robust government support.
Image: Canadian flag, via Shutterstock
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