Correcting child care would benefit families and the economy | Editorials

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As much as we look back with wispy nostalgia to the days when Mom was waiting at home to greet the kids when they got home from school, it’s not something that happens so much in America anymore. Part of the reason is that a large portion of American families simply cannot afford to have a single parent working outside the home.

Two paychecks are needed to cover basic expenses like food and shelter, to cover the ever-increasing costs of college education for their children, or to save money for retirement. And parents who work with young children, more often than not, drop them off at a day care center while they are at work from 9 to 17.

Let’s be clear: the cost of child care is expensive in the United States. Surprisingly for anyone who lives in a household where “Paw Patrol” and “Grumpy Monkey” are not fixtures. The average annual cost of a daycare is about $ 10,000 in Pennsylvania, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Some parents pay more for child care each month than for their mortgage. In some communities, landing a spot in a daycare center can be as difficult as trying to get a ticket to a Broadway show, and many daycare workers are typically paid a pittance. The average annual salary is $ 24,000 per year in Pennsylvania. Many child care workers in the United States are going without benefits like Medicare and paid time off. Some have to work a second job to get by. Many daycare owners say they would like to pay more to control sales, but they just can’t afford it given their low profit margins.

Another thought to keep in mind: Employee absenteeism due to childcare issues costs Pennsylvania employers $ 1 billion each year, according to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Our peers in other industrialized countries do not face similar situations. Countries like France, Denmark and Germany heavily subsidize childcare. While the United States would likely not tolerate the level of taxation that would be necessary for a social safety net equivalent to that of the citizens of European nations, child care in America is shattered and must be fixed.

The budget reconciliation bill being negotiated on Capitol Hill includes provisions that would help lower the cost of child care for families. It would cap childcare costs for families at 7% of annual income and provide subsidies to daycares to help them cover costs and pay their workers better wages. Given the haggling going on right now, it remains to be seen whether the proposal will stay as is or whether it will be scaled back. But most American parents can use all the help they can get right now when it comes to child care.

Gina Adams of the Urban Institute told the New York Times that the pandemic “has reminded people that child care is a mainstay of our economy. Parents cannot work without it. It has gotten to the point where the costs of not investing are much, much clearer.

Seniors in America have been receiving a helping hand from Uncle Sam for decades, through programs like Social Security and Medicare, and it has been a definite benefit to families and to society as a whole. . But children also deserve a helping hand, and the country’s investment in children has traditionally been relatively low. Helping families pay for child care would be a step in the right direction.


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