Elizabeth Warren Sending Her Aunt Bee To Give EVERYBODY Childcare!
Elizabeth Warren rolled out a very solid plan for universal childcare today, and we're impressed. Looks like Democrats are going to have a serious debate about family, work, and how the two should fit together, which as plenty of advocates have noted, they currently do not, no not at all. We're excited, even though our own childcare days are well past, because damn it, this is about fairness for everyone, especially the kids.
Warren starts her pitch by emphasizing she's been there, noting that when she was raising her kids and teaching at a law school in Houston, the babysitter quit. She looked for other arrangements, and didn't find anything she could afford that provided good care:
I tried all sorts of child care options: another babysitter, a neighbor with kids, and a couple of daycare centers. One day I picked up my son Alex from daycare and found that he had been left in a dirty diaper for who knows how long. I was upset with the daycare but, more than anything, angry with myself for failing my baby.
Eventually, she called her Aunt Bee in Oklahoma and told her everything was falling apart and she feared she'd have to quit to take care of her children.
Then Aunt Bee said eleven words that changed my life forever: "I can't get there tomorrow, but I can come on Thursday." Two days later, she arrived at the airport with seven suitcases and a Pekingese named Buddy — and stayed for 16 years.
Elizabeth Warren wants everyone to have an Aunt Bee, or at least affordable childcare. Unfortunately, leaving childcare solely up to the private sector just hasn't worked, and that has contributed to poverty for lots of working parents, who may not even be able to afford the cheapest shoddiest care and end up not working as a result. Warren notes, "in more than half the states in the country, a year of child care costs more than a year of in-state college tuition."
So what would she do about it? For starters, she already has a plan to pay for it -- her proposal for an Eat The Rich wealth tax on the very, very wealthy, which she estimates would raise $2.75 trillion over the first 10 years. Some of that -- about a quarter, the proposal estimates -- would go to free or subsidized childcare for all families who want it (no it will not be mandatory and the government will not steal your babbies for a Socialist Army, although of course the usual rightwing freaks will insist that's the plan).
As with Head Start, local providers -- "states, cities, school districts, nonprofits, tribes, faith-based organizations" -- would partner with the federal government to provide the services. The childcare centers (or preschools or even in-home care) would have to be licensed and meet government standards for staffing, safety, and curriculum, so get ready to hear lots of panic about "indoctrination," especially if the daycare encourages "sharing" or "fairness." Warren also offers as a model the
U.S. military's child care system, which early childhood experts have long praised. Those standards include things like more rigorous training requirements for caregivers and more frequent safety inspections.
Warren says the goal there isn't to make all children sing songs of praise to Barack Obama, but rather to "make sure that no matter where you live, your child will have access to quality care and early learning."
And here's a big freaking deal: Warren's plan would mandate that childcare workers be paid salaries comparable to those of public school teachers. HuffPo explains what a radical but welcome shift that would be, considering that childcare workers currently make some of the country's lowest wages.
Last year, researchers at the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment found that more than half of child care workers had, over a two-year period, relied on at least one federal assistance program for low-income people. Boosting their pay is part of Warren's effort to boost child care quality, because it would allow providers to attract and retain more qualified workers.
Yep, it would also make the program cost more, but this really is one of those rising tide lifts all, like when Henry Ford paid all his workers enough to afford a Model T. Childcare workers might even afford childcare. Imagine that socialist nightmare! Or even crazier, imagine if even nannies and home health workers and others made a living wage, too. It would surely be a nightmare for the suffering builders of luxury yachts.
Elsewhere in the details, Warren says anyone with an income up to 200 percent of the poverty rate (about $50,000 annually for a family of four) would be eligible for free childcare services. Other families would be able to get a subsidy for childcare, and the cost of childcare would be capped at no more than seven percent of any family's income. This, again, would be huge, as HuffPo 'splainers:
The goal of capping costs at 7 percent of income doesn't come out of thin air: That's the figure the Department of Health and Human Services uses to officially define "affordable" child care. But these days, care costs a lot more than that for large numbers of families across the country.
As of 2017, married couple paid an average of 11 percent of their household income on child care, while single parents paid 37 percent, according to the research and advocacy organization Child Care Aware of America.
This is some pretty smart politics: HHS says seven percent of income is what's "affordable," so let's actually make sure families really pay no more than that.
Then there are all the benefits of making sure parents have reliable, affordable childcare -- they can work more if they want to, start a business and hire people if they want to, and know that their kids are safe and learning and being cared for by people who are also paid a decent wage. Plus, it's being paid for by just some of the pittance being extracted from the billionaire class -- those people who have rigged the economy in their own favor since Reagan. Warren calls her plan a "win-win-win" for parents, kids, and all of us:
Parents get the security of knowing there are affordable and instructional child care options for their children. That gives them the freedom to choose the best work and child care situation for themselves.
Kids get high-quality early learning opportunities that put them on track to fulfill their potential. Study after study has shown that regular access to high-quality child care promotes literacy skills, cognitive development, and healthy behaviors. These are long-term benefits: quality early education produces better health, educational, and employment outcomes well into adulthood. My plan gives every kid a fair shot.
And the economy gets a huge boost. More than a million child-care workers will get higher wages and more money to spend. More parents can work more hours if they choose to, producing stronger economic growth. And a generation of kids will get the early instruction they need to be healthier and more productive members of society after high school and beyond.
We love it. Heck, combine it with the Green New Deal and the kids will even have a pretty good shot at inheriting a healthy-ish planet to raise their kids on.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.