American Childcare System: A National Disgrace

A quick post today:

One of the major obstacles challenging unemployed single parents today who are entering/reentering the American work force is the non affordability of quality childcare. If you are single, or have a stay-at-home spouse, you may not be aware how costly it is for the average American. So here’s 11 statistics from In These Times that put the non affordability of childcare in perspective:

$9,600 – Average annual cost of childcare nationwide, per child, in 2017

55% – People who said childcare costs were a significant financial challenge in 2018

33% – Parents who went into debt to pay for summer childcare in 2018

51% – People living in “childcare deserts” (areas with three times more children than

licensed childcare slots) in 2017

19 – States whose childcare assistance programs had waitlists or frozen intake in 2018

67% – Children who have all available parents working outside the industry home as of 2017

16% – Private-industry employees who had access to paid family leave in 2018

37% – Average portion of annual income that single parents spend on childcare

7% – Recommended portion of annual income to be spent on childcare, according to the Department of Health and Human Services

18.3% – Mothers with children ages 3 and younger working outside the home for a median wage of $10.50 or less in 2016

$23,240 – Median annual income for childcare workers in 2018

The Need for Better Childcare

23OBAMA-1421950110100-master675I know the childcare issue is not sexy. And I know that this post will not get a million views this week. But childcare is an essential issue for those of the lower socioeconomic status (SES) trying to claw their way towards a better life.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) melded with West Germany and it’s capitalist ways. But the East Germans had some problems with the West’s free-market policies. The absence of a State-ran economy left many soured and one of the many reasons were the West’s views of the family, and childcare more specifically. The GDR policy was that after childbirth a mother would have a full-year of paid-leave from their job followed by free childcare that was provided by the state. This led to a social movement comprising of the mother’s of the GDR who ran a successful campaign to meet the West German authorities halfway.

Now the reason I tell this story is twofold. First, I love to pick apart capitalist policies by comparing them to what were successful Communist programs. But the substantive reason is that Pres. Obama has finally taken up the cause for affordable childcare this week revealing it in his SOTU speech.

At the University of Kansas Jan. 22nd, Pres. Obama proposed his new revamping of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 along with the Child Care and Development Fund. Here are some of the details from the New York Times article covering the event:

– Obama called for an $80 billion expansion of a federal program that provides child care subsidies to low- and middle-income families with children ages 3 and under, nearly doubling the aid and offering it to more than one million additional children over the next decade.

He promoted his plan to nearly triple, to $3,000 per child, the maximum child care tax credit. And the president said he would push to put more federal money into early childhood programs, expanding the availability of free preschool and extending Head Start — focused on low-income families — to last an entire day, and for the full school year.

White House officials said while the average subsidy for low- and moderate-income families under the federal Child Care and Development Fund was $5,500 in 2013, Mr. Obama’s expansion of the program would aim to cover the entire cost of high-quality care, an average of $10,000. And the number of children covered would nearly double, to 2.6 million in 2025.

-The increased subsidies and tax credits would be financed by Mr. Obama’s plan to increase taxes on investments and inherited wealth, as well as a fee on large financial institutions. The preschool initiative would be paid for by increasing tobacco taxes.

As essential as this legislation is for low-income families, it will more than likely be watered-down by the GOP lawmakers who refuse to fund anything, ever, coming out of the federal budget. And this is assuming it will ever reach the Capitol floor with both the House and Senate being ran by Republicans for at least the next two years.

But if Obama’s proposals do find some tread, maybe we can find our way a little closer to the GDR.

Here is a great clip of Pres. Obama at the University of Kansas on Wednesday speaking about the childcare issue. These speeches always get me fired up.

Obama On Childcare in Kansas