Will the U.S. Finally Provide Affordable Childcare?
A recent survey found daycare is more expensive than rent for many families in this country. This is especially true for low-income parents. Now, finally, lawmakers are attempting to address this extremely frustrating conundrum. According to the Huffington Post, Democrats have proposed legislation that would provide quality, subsidized childcare for kids living in poverty.
Explaining the impetus for the bill, appropriately called the Child Care Access to Resources for Early Learning Act, Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania said, "If we are going to be not only competitive but outcompete the world, we need the best workforce in the world. One of the best ways to ensure that is to make sure that every child has an opportunity, and especially that children from low-income families, have an opportunity to learn more now and earn more later."
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For now the bill, also known as CARE, has the backing of the White House. (Of course, everything could change next January when a new President takes office; Even the bill's supporters admit it is unlikely to garner much Republican support.) The bill's plan would be to funnel $25 billion in mandatory funding over the next five years to the current Child-Care Development Block Grant, a federal subsidy for state-run childcare programs. The most urgent need in lawmakers' minds is to address early education for kids under the age of four.
In order to gain access to the funds, states would need to agree to comply with quality standards and match the federal funds with contributions of their own. They would also need to submit a plan as to how they plan to address improvements to their current offerings.
If you're like me, you may be wondering where all that money is going to come from. The answer: Lawmakers want to close a loophole that American companies use to avoid paying higher taxes by basing themselves in foreign countries.
For this plan to work, there's no doubt more funding is needed to serve the 7.4 million children under age four who live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently, just 583,773 kids have access to subsidies under the child-care block grant.
The bottom line: Our current system demands improvement, but whether this bill passes or not, it's a great step toward solving a very pressing problem for many American families.
What's your take?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.