With the 2020 election looming upon us, politicians like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are laying out their plans to help American families. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it's become clear that many families routinely struggle with child-care. In an effort to help parents navigate these uncertain times, the Biden-Harris ticket has formulated a $775 billion plan — which will be "paid for by rolling back unproductive and unequal tax breaks for real estate investors with incomes over $400,000 and taking steps to increase tax compliance for high-income earners" — to make adequate caregiving options affordable and accessible for parents.
On Aug. 25, the grassroots organisations Moms For Biden and Joe Mamas held a town hall for parents with guest speaker and mom of two Alyssa Milano. There, panelists discussed the facets of Biden's Agenda For Women as well as various topics, like how they plan to safely reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for people in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves."
"The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for people in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves, or to juggle the responsibilities of working and also caring for family members," says Biden's website. "Many parents are struggling to find child care while they go to their essential jobs, or find themselves as 24/7 caregivers trying to keep their children safe and learning while working remotely. Other parents are caring for their kids, while worrying about how they will make ends meet after having hours cut or losing their jobs."
Of course, Biden and Harris also recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly difficult for anyone who works at child-care facilities. "Professional caregivers have either lost their jobs or continue to work while putting their lives at risk without sufficient pay and benefits," it says. "Even before the pandemic, our country was experiencing a caregiving crisis. Some care needs were going untended. Other care needs were filled by Americans serving as unpaid caregivers lacking the financial support or respite care they needed, and sometimes putting their careers on hold."
Read ahead to see the details of Biden and Harris's proposed plan for child-care support in the US.
Provide All 3- and 4-Year-Olds Access to Free, High-Quality Preschool
One of the major components of Biden and Harris's child-care initiative is helping parents cut costs by instituting free preschool programs throughout the country. "Students who enter kindergarten school-ready are nearly two times more likely to master basic skills by age 11, and high-quality preschool is critical to this preparation," says its website.
Biden and Harris point to a specific 2016 study from the RAND corporation, which took place in Cincinnati, OH. It found that providing children with quality preschool options sets them up for success in the long run and closes the readiness gap. "High-quality is a common element among the preschool programs with the largest effects on school readiness and with sustained effects at older ages," it states, noting that, "Children across the income spectrum may benefit from high-quality preschool, but the impacts tend to be larger for more-disadvantaged children."
Offer Low- and Middle-Income Families Quality Options For Child-Care
The Biden-Harris ticket wants to give parents significant tax credits to make getting adequate child-care more affordable. "Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, up to a total of $8,000 for one child or $16,000 for two or more children," says the website. "The tax credit will be refundable, meaning that families who don't owe a lot in taxes will still benefit."
As for the details? "The full 50 percent reimbursement will be available to families making less than $125,000 a year," it says. "And, all families making between $125,000 and $400,000 will receive a partial credit."
Biden and Harris also aim to provide qualifying families with quality chid-care options by adopting the child-care program envisioned in Senator Murray and Congressman Bobby Scott's bipartisan Child Care for Working Families Act. Designed to impact children up to age 5, the bill would:
- Help families save money with child-care costs. "For children under the age of 5, no family earning below 1.5 times the median income in their state will have to pay more than 7 percent of their income for quality care, which was the affordable child care benchmark set by the Obama-Biden Administration," says his website. "A typical family will pay no more than $45 per week. For the most-hard pressed working families, such early child care costs would be fully covered, saving these families about $200 per week."
- Invest in child-care standards and fairly compensate caregiving professionals. The new standards would include "a developmentally appropriate curriculum, small class sizes, and support positive interactions between educators and children that promote children's socio-emotional development." Moreover, Biden plans to "provide funding reflective of the true cost of quality care."
- Expand child-care access that helps working parents. "Biden will provide incentives for providers to fill critical child care shortages, including in the early mornings, evenings, and weekends, and in many rural communities that have few providers today," says its website. "He will offer bonus payments to providers who operate during nontraditional hours and create a Child Care Growth and Innovation fund that will provide grants to programs filling essential needs, including expanding access to high-quality care for families with high barriers to care."
- Ensure families have access to after-school, weekend, and summer care. Because parents often need child-care that falls outside of the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours, Biden and Harris want to increase the subsidies available through the Child Care Development Block Grant program as well as increase funding dedicated to after-school programs.
- Invest in "wraparound" services at community colleges. No parent should have to choose between caring for their kids and getting an education, so Biden hopes to fund states so they can invest in child-care facilities on community college campuses.
- Ensure military families have adequate child-care. "Biden will fully fund installation-based child care facilities and expand awareness of the US Department of Defence fee assistance program, as supported by leading advocates for military families, so that military spouses can more easily pursue their education and careers and tap into respite care to relieve the stresses of deployments, and members of our military can rest easier knowing their children are well cared for," says Biden's website.
Build Safe Child-Care Facilities
Depending on the region of the US you live in, finding adequate child-care options can be challenging. Biden and Harris want to change that by "accelerating the construction and renovation of safe and developmentally appropriate child care facilities in communities and in workplaces, so parents do not have to search in vain for a suitable child care option."
Specifically, Biden wants to implement a child-care construction tax credit that will encourage businesses to build new facilities. Additionally, he plans to invest in "upgrading existing facilities around the country that are not accessible for people with disabilities, or safe or developmentally appropriate for young children who are especially vulnerable to environmental contaminants like lead and mold, and to safety hazards like electrical outlets."
Give Child-Care Professionals and Educators the Benefits They Deserve
"Caregivers and early childhood educators — who are disproportionately women and people of colour — are poorly compensated," it says on Biden's website. "Direct support professionals and child care workers earn on average less than $12 an hour and $25,000 annually. This low pay contributes to extremely high rates of turnover in the care workforce, which hurts these workers and those for whom they care."
To decrease the rate of turnover in these professions, Biden and Harris plan to increase their pay and ensure that caregivers and educators have access to affordable healthcare. Biden also wants to ensure that these professionals have "strong legal protections" and the ability to join a union if they choose. "Biden will work to ensure all workers — including direct support workers and early childhood educators – have an effective, meaningful way to unionize and collectively bargain, whether they work in a centre- or home-based setting," says the website.
Lastly, he wants to give early educators the tools they need to succeed by providing "opportunities for quality training and education and meaningful credentials so they can earn higher wages, develop rewarding and lasting careers, and stay in their jobs for longer, critical ingredients to delivering high-quality care and education."