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Are Americans 'Entitled' to Child Care?

by Countable | 9.15.17

What’s the story?

A new bill is coming to the Senate that will radically alter the lives of working parents: It could make child care a federal entitlement. Nearly half of two-parent families consist of both parents working full-time and over twenty million children live in single-parent households. Making child care a ‘right’ for all parents would have enormous implications for society and for the federal budget.

Why does it matter?

According to the Pew Research Center, in 46% of two-parent families both parents work full-time. The Census Bureau in 2016 said there were 50.7 million children living with two parents, so 23.3 million have two full-time, working parents.

Additionally, according to Pew there are another 23% of two parent families where one parent works full-time and the other works part-time. In some areas of the country there are enough job opportunities to arrange schedules to not have both parents working at the same time, making child care unnecessary. However, a 2015 Washington Post poll found that over 75% of female parents and 50% of male parents had passed up job opportunities or switched jobs in order to care for their children.

An August 2016 Center for American Progress report on childcare deserts — areas across the country where there are little to no options for quality, affordable, licensed child care — argues that child care is an essential part of employment infrastructure in the United States today:

"Child care is an essential part of employment infrastructure; as with roads and bridges, parents require child care to get to work. By investing in childcare infrastructure, as much as it does in bridges and roads, the federal government can support economic growth and family economic security.”

Twenty-seven Democratic senators have signed on to a bill that aims to address this challenge by establishing child care as a federal entitlement, like Social Security and Medicaid, reports Vox. The proposal is dead on arrival in a Republican-led Congress, but it brings attention to the plight of working families and raises compelling questions about the role of government in supporting them.

The White house has proposed the expansion of tax credits for childcare costs. This helps those who can afford quality care in the first place. But it does little for Americans who earn so little that they hardly pay any taxes. They would still have to pay for care, often as much as a third of the family income, without receiving a tax credit, according to the Center for American progress.

The Democrats’ new bill would guarantee preschool for 3 and 4 year olds and cap low to moderate income families’ contributions for child care at 7% of family income. It would also set up new regulations for childcare centers and mandate a raise in pay for childcare workers, in the hopes of dealing with supply issues.

The estimated bill for the program would be $60 billion annually. For comparison, in 2015 Social Security cost the federal government $888 billion, per the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Healthcare programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program and Obamacare subsidies) cost $938 billion.

What do you think?

Are Americans ‘Entitled’ to child care? Is the choice to have children a private decision or a social one? If it’s both, does society have an obligation to help people raise their children? Do you support the president’s plan to expand tax credits for childcare expenses or do you think the federal government should do more? Should the states be picking up the tab instead? In the budget, where should the money for universal child care come from?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

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(138)
  • MTRLacourt59
    09/15/2017
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    The early years are the most important for healthy brain development, socialization and academic attainment; the implications of not investing in the early years are harmful. Government ought to own the research on the early years and make the necessary investments ensuring every child in America has a good start and every working parent has peace of mind while earning a living and contributing taxes to the economy. It's an investment that will pay great dividends to society. It's about time government steps up to the plate!

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  • Carol
    09/15/2017
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    No! It is an individuals choice to have children & it is that individuals choice to care for them.

    Like (37)
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  • Loretta
    09/15/2017
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    Wait...I have an idea...how about AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE and Medicare for ALL. Health care not Wealth care!!!

    Like (32)
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  • Marie
    09/16/2017
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    First, we need to drop the words "entitled" or "entitlement." These words are used pejoratively, making a true discussion of principles and policies nearly impossible. It is in our country's best interest to support working families, to ensure that every child starts his or her life with equal opportunities for education and socialization. That's how we should approach these issues: what is the short- and long-term benefits of providing federally subsidized child care to working families? How will that make us a better society (because surely we always have room for improvement)? Of course there will be costs, but if we look only at costs, then we miss the whole picture. I want to live in a society that cares for all of its citizens, regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, race, and sexual orientation. Should I really have to consider leaving the US to find such a society?

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  • Margaret
    09/15/2017
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    Yes! Just like school is a required service, this should include childcare. Everyone should have the right to high quality childcare. This will improve the quality of life for many Americans and improve the economy. Must pay caregivers competitive wages too.

    Like (13)
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  • Erica
    09/15/2017
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    As an early childhood educator I fully support government funded childcare for all. This way underprivileged children get access to high quality care to reduce achievement gaps and their families have more opportunities to rejoin the workforce.

    Like (13)
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  • Emily
    09/15/2017
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    For so many the cost of child care, let alone high-quality child care, is a barrier for families to be able to provide for their families.

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  • Tonya0717
    09/15/2017
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    It would definitely help single mothers like me out who don't make but just enough money for the bills

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  • F khristopher
    09/15/2017
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    No. Why does everything have to be a right? Choices and consequences. No one told anyone to have children as it is not mandated by the Constitution nor by rules and regulations of federal and state. I myself have children and would love such a benefit but I do not believe it is a right… I decided to have these children due to planning or non-planning, depending on the circumstance… and it is my responsibility as well as my partner\wife to take care of my children not the government…

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  • KansasTamale
    09/16/2017
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    Childcare should be a right since the government keeps people's wages at 1997 levels so they have to have 2 or 3 jobs. Childcare should be part of Right to life. So the Republican ANTIABORTION WING SHOULD BE HAPPY TO PAY FOR AMERICAN'S CHILDCARE. RIGHT???

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  • Marissa
    09/16/2017
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    There is a saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." Yes, I believe it is both a private and societal issue because neglect is one of the major problems in many households. Some children are left at home caring for themselves without guidance or are in poor childcare situations. Healthy and mentally sound children can increase chances of being a better adult. Hence, better and happier balanced society.

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  • Terry
    09/15/2017
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    Govt. is only entitled to keep us safe and free.

    Like (6)
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  • Nancy
    09/15/2017
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    Child care allows for jobs and is good for the economy. It allows parents/guardians to work.

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  • Abbi
    09/16/2017
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    Let me put it to you this way, do you want us to work? I mean you want us have kids right? Cause this is the argument I hear from the boot strap rich people... "you can't have an abortion! It's God's will!" "Stop having so many kids!" "You want 15 an hour? You lazy entitled brats need to pull your selves up by your bootstraps like we did!!" "Daycare?! In my day the mother stayed home! That's why we have bad kids every where!?" "Stop having kids!!!" "Defund planned parenthood!!!" "Why should I pay for your birth control!" "Work for your money, stop being entitled!!" You get it now? They want to control our lives as long as they don't have to pay for it, they make trillions in corporate welfare and fight living wages. Either they pay us living wages so one spouse can watch the kids or if it's a single parent he/she can afford a GOOD childcare provider or they give us vouchers to the provider of our choice so we can work our longer hours for our shitty pay but we have one less expense to juggle when the bills come.

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  • John
    09/16/2017
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    Let's give parents a hand.

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  • Blackhawk.U.S.Army.Vet
    09/16/2017
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    Live with in your means not your wants. It's not the responsibility of the tax payer to help pay for your child's day or extended care. If you can't afford to have children. Don't have children period.

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  • Dean
    09/16/2017
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    Americans are entitled to childcare.

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  • Randi
    09/15/2017
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    I don't like the idea of childcare being a right. I don't mind them receiving a tax credit for child care, however.

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  • Abbi
    09/16/2017
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    Don't call it entitlements! You triggered all the bootstrap people. Now all they can't think for themselves again because the Fox News brain washing has taken hold and they are posting gibberish like "I'm not paying for someone else's kid!" God now it's gonna take forever to remind them that these programs are there for them too and that corporations like Walmart get all sorts of government subsidies, tax cuts, while underpaying their employees and being the main reason so many folks are on public assistance!

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  • Andy1
    09/15/2017
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    Child care is one area of the economy where the free market does not work. Child care workers have a very important job and work far too hard for too little pay. At the same time child care cost for families are out of control. Parents being able to remain productive members of the workforce benefits the whole economy we should subsidize not as a hand out or as an "entitlement" but because we recognize we all benefit from it. All you no tax people are the free loaders looking to get your roads for free, your healthy workforce for free, your vibrant economy for free. Seems to me you are the entitled ones

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