How would Elizabeth Warren's ambitious proposal for child care work?



The latest is the proposal of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to create a new federal child care system. This is an ambitious twist in the political conversation around working parents, which has recently adopted bipartisan proposals to demand paid family leave for new parents, including one spearheaded by Ivanka Trump.

Warren goes much further by suggesting that the government create childcare centers for infants and young children to ensure that working parents, especially mothers, have quality daycare options.

Parents who wish to continue their careers or who can not afford to stay at home are confronted with the anxiety of parenting, but also to find who will take care of the children on a daily basis – and how to pay it.

In presenting the plan, Warren told the story of her own difficulties as a hardworking mother and how her aunt Bee went to the rescue after a bad daycare experience. "Finding affordable, high-quality child care has become even more difficult since my children grew up – and not everyone has the chance to have their own aunt bee," writes Warren in a Medium message describing his plan.

Warren's plan, rated by economist Moody's Mark Zandi – who has worked on both sides of the political hierarchy, including for John McCain and Barack Obama – rests on the following points:

  • 12 million children supported – The number of children receiving official child care in the United States would increase significantly, from 6.8 million children under 5 years old today to 12 million of children – about 60% of children in this age group.
  • Public daycares – He would make use of the existing Head Start infrastructure to establish centers across the country, ensuring affordable and reliable options in "children's deserts".
  • A sliding scale for fees – Care would be free for people earning less than twice the poverty line, or about $ 50,000 for a family of four. Federal grants would ensure that no other family spends more than 7% of its income on childcare.

Not everyone would participate – according to Zandi's analysis – about 30% of children would still be, depending on their parents' choice, taken care of by their family – and that would be expensive, with a price tag of 70 billions of dollars a year, or $ 700 billion over 10 years.

Warren's plan is bold in part because it addresses the gap between proposals for parental leave – concerning newborns – and the universal pre-kindergarten proposals, which concern children of all ages. preschool age. This leaves a hole for the parents of anyone from about six months to four years old, which is a lot of people working.

Who would he help?

Parents – Warren's argument for his plan, structured around his own efforts to keep his law school job when she has young children, revolves around the idea of ​​allowing mothers to work. She basically says it would be a wise government investment to help more parents stay in the labor market full time, at a time when the US labor market is historically tense.

In a 2015 Washington Post survey, more than three-quarters of mothers and half of fathers reported making sacrifices over the course of their careers to care for their children.
This joins the most recent Pew survey, conducted in 2012 – which is clearly some time ago. Half of the mothers participating in the survey said that having children made their careers more difficult compared to 16% of working fathers.

And when asked what would be their "ideal" work situation, most said they would rather work than stay at home, even if they preferred to work part-time rather than full-time. .

Childcare workers – One of the key elements of Warren's plan is to remunerate these educators in the same way as teachers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 1.2 million child care workers in the United States in 2017, including those who worked in daycares as well as in private homes. They earned an average of $ 22,290 a year and about $ 10.72 an hour. The United States also has about 478,500 pre-school teachers, according to the BLS, and earned a little more, a median of $ 28,990 a year.
Elementary school and elementary school teachers earned more than twice what educators earned in 2017 – $ 56,900 a year was the median salary in 2017. So they would theoretically be entitled to a large tuition fee. increase. But being a child care provider does not usually require a university degree, while being a preschool teacher may require an associate degree and being a teacher usually requires at least a university degree.

It is not clear whether Warren's plan would replace the patchwork of current licensing requirements, or whether it would simply increase the salary scale of child care providers without requiring additional qualifications.

How would it work?

There is currently no large-scale model in the United States for universal custody. We are talking about new care for millions of kids.

In total, the federal government is already spending about $ 15 billion on early childhood education, according to an analysis by the Government Accountability Office. It also subsidizes enormously the cost of keeping members of the military services on and off bases.

Warren's program would more than quadruple this amount, initially by developing Head Start. This is the federal education program for low-income children in early childhood, and Warren's plan to expand from Head Start would be immediately controversial.

In 2017, Head Start served nearly 900,000 children at a cost of $ 8.8 billion. Warren's plan could open Head Start to all the kids.

Setting up a new day care infrastructure with well-paid workers will not happen overnight. Zandi's analysis suggests that it would take at least two years.

In addition, it could require many, many more workers. The federal government suggests a ratio of at least one adult trained for three or four infants and three to six toddlers up to the age of 2 years. Preschool age can begin at age 3, when the proposed ratio is from an adult to six to 10 years. -écoliers.

Regulations vary from state to state, which means that the cost of the program would also be vary according to the states.

We then wonder if Head Start is the right model. Zandi mentions Head Start as a successful program in his analysis of Warren's plan, but it's far from being a universal view. Some experts, such as Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and Lauren Bauer of Brookings, said the program was effective and useful.
Lindsey Burke, director of educational policy at the Heritage Conservative Foundation, described Head Start's failure as a total failure because it was difficult to quantify its long-term benefits to students.

"The increase in early childhood care subsidies will only create a new program that will likely end up benefiting middle- and high-income families," she said.

This has been a criticism of the substantial increase in the federal child tax credit, implemented in the 2017 tax reform, which provides parents with a credit of $ 2,000 per child instead of 1,000. dollars. However, they are essentially grants paid at the end of the tax year, not direct assistance as parents seeking to care for their children.

"Taxpayers want to keep more of their hard-earned money and make those decisions themselves," Burke said.

As to whether this is true, it will be very much part of the debate in the Democratic primary. It is certainly true that Warren adds a new element to the political conversation.


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