When I heard you utter the words “affordable, quality child care for all families” at the Republican convention last summer, I literally stood up and cheered in the middle of my living room. It’s one of the many, and arguably one of the most important, issues facing working families. These are the families whom I care deeply about and have been fighting for over the last decade.
Quality child care is high-quality early childhood education, and it’s one of the best investments we can make as a society. Research shows that for every dollar spent on early childhood education the economy will see upwards of a 13% return on investment. Child care has always been a nonpartisan issue and has seen its fair share of changes — from World War II when universal child care was available to the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014.
Unfortunately, what we have not seen is many substantive changes for working families in need of child care. We know that more than 11 million children under age 5 are in child care right now. That means that for working families, child care is required. And yet child care is unaffordable and completely out of reach for families in 49 out of 50 states!
The Trump child care plan bases the value of a household’s deduction on that household’s tax bracket. This means that individuals with an income of $250,000 will receive a higher deduction than family’s making $50,000 a year. The table below best illustrates this.
Let me use my own family as an example: My partner Aaron and I have two children, both in child care. Luckily, we both have good jobs with benefits. Even so, we have only recently been able to tuck away a few dollars towards savings. We would receive a tax rate of 25%, while families making far less would only have a tax rate of 12 percent. This means that families struggling far more than mine will get far less assistance than we will. The bottom line is all families, particularly those who are hurting the most, deserve to get the help they need.
So don’t start with a family like mine…
Start with families who are working but still living in poverty, or are just trying to make it from one paycheck to the next. These are the families with lower incomes who need high-quality child care as a means to better their children’s long-term outcomes. They are struggling with other household expenses and can’t afford to add child care to the mix. A family of three in Massachusetts living at the poverty level would have to pay nearly 85% of their income for full-time center-based care for just one infant!
Start, too, with single parents. In every state, the average cost of center-based infant care exceeds 24% of a single parent’s median income. The financial math works against them.
Start with millennial parents. They are saddled with mountains of education debt and are putting off buying homes and having families. Estimates reveal about 1 out of 4 postsecondary students are parents — and many of those students are millennials trying to improve their circumstances.
Start with families who need child care coverage during nontraditional hours. They are working when my family is sleeping or relaxing. They work the night shift, or on weekends, or they have shifts that change by the week, and they have little to no quality child care options to support their work schedules.
Start with the parents of children with special needs who can’t find access to critical services at an affordable cost, if they can find them in their area at all.
Start with parents from rural areas. They are experiencing child care deserts (areas where the supply of quality child care doesn’t meet the demand). These parents cobble together temporary or unstable arrangements just to get to work or school.
And of critical importance, please start by investing in the child care workforce across the country. It’s been researched that half of the people who provide care for our nation’s children are living in poverty. They are woefully undercompensated and undersupported, even though they are critical to the quality early learning experiences children need to be ready for school and life.
Ivanka, I appreciate and respect the attention you are bringing to this critical issue, but don’t make this a winning issue for only some us — all of us need your support.
Investment in early childhood education is a win for children.
Investment in early childhood education is a win for families.
Investment in early childhood education is a major win for the economy.
Join us in the fight for quality, affordable child care at childcareworks.org.