Action Alert: Promise the Children and our Work Toward Affordable Childcare
Promise the Children was recently interviewed by a young advocate at Gonzaga University on the topic of affordable childcare. Below are a few highlights from our conversation and our work toward making affordable childcare for all a reality.
1. How does your organization view affordable childcare? What is the impact of affordable childcare?
Promise the Children supports a national investment in affordable, high-quality childcare for all children. Affordable childcare is essential for women and families, and it also makes economic sense.
Childcare still largely falls to women, and without access to affordable childcare, women may stay out of the workforce entirely. But when women have access to affordable childcare, and can work and participate in the labor force, we see a significant increase in U.S. economic output. “According to a report from S&P Global Inc., the U.S. could add $1.6 trillion to GDP if women entered and stayed in the workforce at a rate similar to Norway’s, which has government-subsidized day care.”
Simply put, affordable childcare makes economic sense.
The U.S. ranks behind other countries in investing in child care and early education — we currently spend less than 1% of GDP. For comparison, Sweden and Iceland spend closer to 2%. We almost attained a nationally funded, locally run child care system in 1971, but President Nixon vetoed the proposed law and left childcare up to the states and cities to figure out. This happened at the same time that women were joining the workforce in ever-larger numbers, without any federal policies to support them.
Here’s the result of this inaction: today more than half of Americans live in a “child-care desert” where there is little or no access to quality care — and since this care is scarce, it’s often unaffordable. In 2016, the average cost for infant child care was actually more than a year’s tuition at a public college in 28 states. These costs bankrupt our families and keep more children and families in poverty.
2. What improvements does your organization seek to make with affordable childcare?
Promise the Children advocates for an increased federal investment in childcare. We support the few efforts that have already been made to address child care — like federal Child Care and Development Block Grants — but we also recognize that these initiatives focus solely on low-income families and create no relief for middle-income families. We advocate for subsidizing child-care centers; creating paid family leave; establishing universal healthcare; and creating family focused policies.
3. What changes would those improvements require? What actions might lead to those changes?
These improvements require an ambitious federal investment in our children and our childcare system. We’re pleased to see the current Administration proposing a $775 billion, 10-year plan to fund universal preschool, build new child-care facilities, fund paid family leave, and increase salaries for child-care workers. We believe continued advocacy and the creation of incentives for businesses to do the right thing can help make these goals a reality. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, nearly 50% of employers surveyed said that they would provide more child care assistance to employees if the government gave them an incentive to do so.
Promise the Children partners with a number of other advocates that are also working toward making life better for children and families. These include: Mom’s Rising, Mom’s Demand Action, Zero to Three, NAYEC, Office of Childcare (OCC) and Crawling Behind. The results of our work together are that we now have the attention of the Biden Administration as well as the House of Representatives. We have advocated for and allocated funding for child care in Covid Relief bills, but President Biden’s newest bill will provide more permanent funding for childcare and more. We remain committed to the cause, because we know that investments in child care would have enormous benefits for our children, our families, our society and our economy.