Newspaper article International New York Times

America's Child Care Crisis

Newspaper article International New York Times

America's Child Care Crisis

Article excerpt

Donald Trump is right, for once: Companies need to chip in to help workers with their kids.

Of all the milestones that have come from the first viable female presidential candidacy, one should come as no surprise: Unfortunately, it takes a "woman card" to finally get a detailed plan to address the child care crisis in the United States.

Every parent knows that child care is expensive, and getting more so. According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, annual infant care in 33 states now costs more than a year's tuition at a public university. For minimum-wage workers nationally, child care costs can easily eat up over half of their paychecks.

Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton introduced her plan to confront these rising costs. Arguably the most progressive part of her platform, it would use tax credits to cap child care costs at 10 percent of a family's income. This would have a significant impact on low-income parents, the demographic most in need of day care services and whose work-family conflicts are matters of survival, rather than inconvenience.

I work in a casino, and I know many parents who are forced to forgo a necessary wage to stay home and care for their children, because the money they'd make wouldn't cover the cost of child care. In the case of single parents who have no choice but to work, they often have to leave their kids at lower-quality and unlicensed facilities -- or in extreme cases, home alone.

Quality day care centers are not necessarily bountiful either. A study by the National Institute of Child Health and Development says that less than 10 percent of American child care facilities are rated "very high quality." Mrs. Clinton's plan acknowledges this reality, and would pump federal money into raising the wages and retention rates of day care workers, many of whom cannot even afford the services they provide.

In states like mine, Nevada, where low-wage work makes up a quarter of the economy, less than 25 percent of families can afford child care. Mrs. Clinton's proposed tax credit would not only be good for individual families, but also for the larger economy -- the Economic Policy Institute estimates that it could generate $1.92 billion in new economic activity for the state.

True, her plan could always go further -- Nordic-style free day care, for example -- but it's close to comprehensive when measured against her rival's. Donald J. Trump doesn't have a day-care policy to speak of beyond, as he said at one point, that he thinks it's a wife's job.

But he also said, in an Iowa town hall, that "it's not that expensive for a company to do it." That's not a policy, but it's a good point, and it's one that Mrs. Clinton should take to heart. Her plan focuses on pumping up federal funding, but it doesn't place any onus on, or provide incentives to, large companies, which often have the resources to make child care available to their employees. …

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