Should the U.S. adopt universal child care? | The Tylt
Should the U.S. adopt universal child care?
The issue of child-care costs is one raised by both the left and right. Ivanka Trump made child care one of her primary causes on the campaign trail, proposing tax credits for families to offset costs.
Child care in the U.S. can cost up to $9,500 per year, according to the New America Foundation. In fact, in some states, paying for one year of child care can be more expensive for families than paying for one year of college tuition.
But Senate Democrats recently introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act which aims to remedy these problems by taking things a step further and guaranteeing universal child care for all.
The legislation would create a federal-state partnership to address high-quality child care, add new regulations for federal child care centers, provide support to members of the child care workforce by improving compensation and training, and support the creation of universal pre-school programs for children aged 3 and 4.
While the legislation is popular among many Democrats, some have argued the realities of universal child care are much less positive. A study of Quebec’s universal daycare program found high demand worsened the quality of care, putting children in a worse position than if they hadn't enrolled at all.
But their kids suffered, winding up worse off than peers who’d never had daycare at all. It seems that the high demand for slots diluted the quality of the children’s care: After highly rated nonprofit programs filled up, the government had to resort more and more to lower-rated private and in-home services.
And an increase in federal funding for child care doesn't guarantee better outcomes for children.
Nevertheless, there is an important lesson here: When supply and funding are limited, it’s extremely hard to maintain quality at such a large scale. And if you can’t offer the same care or educational experience to every child—something that’s truly “universal”—you should probably rethink the approach.