Can The American Families Plan Help With The High Cost Of Child Care?
WASHINGTON – It’s no secret that childcare is expensive.
According to the advocacy group Child Care Aware, the average cost per year for child care is between $ 9,200 and $ 9,600, with costs varying by region.
Gabrielle Alston is a struggling parent. She lives in Washington, DC, which is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the country for childcare.
Alston, who is currently looking for work, currently pays around $ 50 a day.
“For me that’s a lot, especially if I don’t have it and have other bills,” Alston said.
AMERICAN FAMILY PLAN
President Biden has vowed to address the cost of child care in his U.S. Plan for Families, which is part of a massive, multibillion-dollar infrastructure package Democrats hope to adopt this summer.
According to the proposal, families earning less than 1.5 times their state’s median income would see child care costs capped at 7% of their annual salary.
It’s a potentially revolutionary proposition for people like Alston.
“It sounds like a good plan, but I guess it depends on the parent’s income,” Alston said.
In addition to spending limits on child care, President Biden wants to expand kindergarten across the country.
The free preschool would significantly offset the cost of child care for parents of three and four year olds.
In return for increasing income taxes for Americans earning more than $ 450,000 a year and couples earning more than $ 500,000 a year, both goals would be paid, according to the White House plan.
Congress will set the actual income tax brackets and rates later this summer as the bill continues to be negotiated.
While some cities and states currently offer pre-kindergarten, many places do not.
WATCH DC FOR ANSWERS
It’s hard to find a city in this country investing more in preschool locally than Washington, DC.
Thousands of children are successfully matched each year and enrolled in free public pre-K programs.
The cost to taxpayers is approximately $ 18,000 per child.
Jason Yoho, a kindergarten teacher in Washington, DC, says it’s not just about saving parents money.
Mr. Yoho, as he is called, says it prepares children better.
“These kids when they enter kindergarten, they’re just ready with these foundational skills,” Yoho said.
As for the cost, which is triple the national figure, the school district makes no apologies and is proud.
“We are proudly one of the districts that invests the most in early childhood education,” said Dr. Lewis Ferebee, Chancellor of DC Public Schools, in a recent interview.
If President Biden’s plan were approved, Ferebee believes it would expand the program. After all, not all parents enroll their child in the program they want.
This year there were 19,921 applicants for DC’s pre-K program, 6,249 were not matched.
“We are trying to keep up with the demand,” Ferebee said.
Getting it right, however, is essential for the program to work, warns Ferebee.
Teachers in the DC Pre-K program are paid the same as high school teachers. This is not the case in many cities with similar programs.
“The pay model is the same whether you teach kindergarten or you are a high school chemistry teacher,” Ferebee said.
The expansion of preschool education has consequences, however.
Conor Williams is an academic researcher who studies child care professionally and has even enrolled his children in the DC program.
Williams says the DC experiment has been largely successful, but there are notable impacts.
Specifically, he says free kindergarten for a three-year-old can increase the cost of child care for parents of a one or two-year-old.
“Most private health centers make most of their profits on the three and four year olds they serve, it’s a lot more expensive to pay for a newborn baby because you need more people.” Williams said.
What Williams, Dr. Ferebee, Mr. Yoho and Gabrielle Alston all say will play an important role in Congressional debates on the American plan for families in the weeks to come.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants a House vote on infrastructure by July 4.
It is unclear whether or not she plans to combine the U.S. Jobs Plan, which deals with more traditional infrastructure projects, into one big bill with the U.S. Families Plan.