Right now, our policies are out-of-step with the realities of American families—65% of children under age 6 have both parents in the workforce, which means parents, especially working moms, are often left to make an impossible choice: low-quality care to maintain their jobs or forgoing needed pay to stay at home and care for their child.
In order to put high-quality child care and pre-k #withinreach for millions of working families, we need major public solutions that match the gravity of the problem. High-quality child care costs more than median rent in every state, and it’s more expensive than the average annual tuition and fees for a public four-year university in 31 states and the District of Columbia. And only about 34% of preschool aged children are enrolled in pre-k in the United States.
Kids, families, and our economy can’t wait for access to affordable high-quality child care and pre-k any longer—here’s how to put them #withinreach:
High-Quality Child Care Tax Credit
To put high quality child care within reach, the Center for American Progress proposes a new tax credit available to families that make up to four times the federal poverty level. Here’s how it would work:
- The tax credit would be worth up to $14,000 for families with a child under age three, and would be contingent on quality standards that could be phased in over time. The subsidy builds in higher wages for providers— meaning child care workers would make an average $16/hr.
- It would be paid in real time on a monthly basis to providers; families would not have to pay out-of-pocket and wait until the following year for their tax refund.
- Families would pay 2%-12% of their income as a co-payment to the provider.
- Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds would continue to support state systems and help to build the supply of quality child care.
- Families with unpredictable work schedules would be able to use providers that meet health and safety standards if a high-quality child care provider is not available during that time.
To learn more, click here.
To put high quality pre-k within reach, the Center for American Progress proposes universally accessible voluntary pre-k for all 3- and 4-year old children. Here’s how it would work:
- Every child should be able to voluntarily attend two years of high-quality public pre-k.
- The federal government would, on average, match state pre-k expenditures up to $10,000 per child per year.
- Pre-k would be free for children in families at or below twice the federal poverty level, and children from families above twice the federal poverty level would pay a tuition co-pay on a sliding scale.
- Since pre-k operates on an academic schedule, CAP also proposes a smaller High-Quality Child Care Tax Credit, up to $5,000 for families that make up to twice the federal poverty level, for working families that may need additional high-quality child care to accommodate work schedules.
To learn more, click here.