The presidential candidate wants a universal child care program that gives everyone access to high-quality care before kindergarten
Weeks after she announced her run for President in 2020, Elizabeth Warren has unveiled a big part of her platform: getting universal child care and early education in the United States. It’s a program that she says will help all families, but especially working moms, single parents, and anyone who has had to choose between their career and staying home for financial reasons – not to mention our kids. The costs would be covered, in large part, by a tax on the super rich.
Warren announced the program today via a Medium post as well as through Twitter. On both platforms, she began her explanation of her idea on a personal note: the story of how raising two children while going to law school and pursing her career was extremely hard.
Another big, structural change we need: #UniversalChildCare. I’m proposing a bold new plan that guarantees high-quality child care and early education for every child in America. It will be free for millions of families, and affordable for everyone. pic.twitter.com/lFFZO7kwhu
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 19, 2019
“I remember how hard it was to find affordable and high-quality child care when I was a working mom with two little ones,” she wrote on Medium. “I had a job teaching at a law school in Houston when the babysitter quit. Over the next few months I tried all sorts of child care options: another babysitter, a neighbor with kids, and a couple of daycare centers. One day I picked up my son Alex from daycare and found that he had been left in a dirty diaper for who knows how long. I was upset with the daycare but, more than anything, angry with myself for failing my baby.”
For her, like so many in America, the solution was an aging relative.
“At the end of my rope, I called my 78-year-old Aunt Bee in Oklahoma and broke down, telling her between tears that I couldn’t make it work and had to quit my job. Then Aunt Bee said eleven words that changed my life forever: ‘I can’t get there tomorrow, but I can come on Thursday.’ Two days later, she arrived at the airport with seven suitcases and a Pekingese named Buddy — and stayed for 16 years.”
Of course, she explains, not everyone has an Aunt Bee, and it hurts not only working parents, but a generation of kids.
Before explaining her plan, Warren talked about just how bad the situation is in the United States today: half of families live in child care deserts – and even those who have access to care end up spending huge chucks of their salaries to find just a safe place for their kid to be. The truth is that American families on average spend almost as much on child care as they do rent, and child care costs more than college.
Bottom line: good child care is hard to find. When you can find it, it’s extremely expensive. And that hurts both parents and kids.
“We must do better for our kids — and our parents,” Warren writes. “In the wealthiest country on the planet, access to affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right, not a privilege reserved for the rich.”
How will the plan work? Warren outlines this as well.
First off, the government will partner with private child care centers across the country to create a network of providers. These providers would have to rise to a set of standards of safety and education – and the providers would be paid similarly to early childhood teachers for their efforts.
All families would have access to their centers – but what they pay would be based on factors like income and location. Anyone making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line for their family would have free access – but even those making a good living would no longer be shelling out upwards of 30 percent of their income for day care.
How will all of this be paid for? Warren would use money from a “wealth tax” that would only affect Americans who have a net worth that’s over $50 million. She seems this as an investment in the future of America – where all kids have the benefit of an early childhood education, and all parents have the option of working if they choose to.
The other major candidates haven’t released any detailed plans regarding universal child care – and President Trump is more interested in building a very long wall. We’ll have to see what other hopefuls say about child care in the coming months, but so far, this seems like a good and necessary step in the right direction, not to mention a system that a huge number of other first world countries have had in place for years.