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US parents pay almost double the ‘affordable’ cost of child care and preschool
Childcare and nursery school are straining family budgets. Matt Roth for the Washington Post via Getty Images CC BY-ND Chairman Joe Biden wants to make child care more affordable in the United States. As part of its U.S. Plan for Families, proposed in April 2021, the federal government would subsidize child care costs accordingly by $ 225 billion per year. Low-income families would be able to access free child care, while middle-class families would pay no more than 7% of their income. In addition, the plan aims to make a free, high-quality preschool accessible to all 3 and 4-year-olds. Almost 60% of parents say child care and daycare costs are a financial strain. Currently, child care consumes 14% of the income of working-class, middle-class families – for example, those with household incomes between $ 50,000 and $ 100,000 for a family of four – according to the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. For low-income families the share jumps to 35% As a researcher studying government assistance to working families in different countries, I know that the United States spends much less on early childhood education and child care. children than comparable countries. While the United States spends about $ 2,500 per year on child care and preschool education per child, the average in Europe is $ 4,700. Some countries, including Norway and Sweden, spend more than $ 10,000. Impact of Limited Funding Given the devastating effects of the pandemic on child care in the United States, as part of the 2021 US bailout, the federal government added $ 39 billion to support service providers child care and an additional $ 15 billion in flexible funding for states to make child care more affordable. This is in addition to the $ 10 billion provided as part of a December 2020 COVID-19 relief program. Yet these one-time injections cannot solve the long-term lack of funding for child care. Federal spending is generally so small that it affects relatively few children. For example, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides federal funding to states that provide child care grants to low-income families with children under the age of 13. Yet only 15% of the nearly 14 million children eligible for these grants actually benefit from them. Early Head Start and Head Start are free, federally funded programs that promote school readiness for children aged 3 to 5 from low-income families. Early Head Start serves only 11% of eligible children, and Head Start serves 36% of eligible children. Despite the demand for Head Start services, insufficient funding limits the number of children the program can serve. In other words, most working families cannot rely on these programs. Benefits of Grants While the roughly $ 10 billion the federal government spends annually on Head Start and $ 5 billion on other child care programs may seem expensive, spending on early childhood education pays off. large dividends and stimulate economic growth – in fact generating more revenue than the cost of the programs. Research consistently shows that children enrolled in preschool programs are more likely to go to college, earn more money, be healthier, and not receive government support. Indeed, a 2016 study shows that every dollar the government spent on high-quality early childhood education programs in North Carolina translated into a $ 7 benefit to the economy. More money spent on child care means less spent on other government benefits like Unemployment Insurance and Medicaid. Effective Models for America’s Pre-K Families Plan Biden also seeks to build on the work of state-funded preschool programs. Florida, the District of Columbia, Oklahoma, and Vermont have adopted almost universal pre-K for 4-year-olds, and some other states, counties, and cities have started implementing these programs as well. Universal pre-K programs are also being expanded to include 3-year-olds. These programs are working. For example, researchers studied children who enrolled in the high-quality pre-K program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at age 4 after reaching college. They found that pre-K alumni had better math skills, took more specialization courses, and were less likely to be retained in school than 4-year-olds who did not participate in the program. Yet by 2021, relatively few American children can attend a high-quality preschool. Wealthier families are more likely to enroll their children in licensed day care centers, which often have an early education component. This reinforces the achievement gap between children from the poorest and the richest families. Based on all the available evidence, I have no doubt that increasing public spending on early childhood education and childcare could radically change the lives of working families, improve long-term life trajectories. many Americans and strengthen the US economy. [Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation’s email newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Joya Misra, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Read More: 82% of Americans Want Paid Maternity Leave – Which Makes It As Popular As ChocolateHow To Lift Kids Out Of Poverty Today Will Help Them Tomorrow Joya Misra Receives Funding From The National Science Foundation And The Washington Center for Equitable Growth.