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This Group Has A Modest Proposal To Fix America’s Childcare Fiasco

Last week, a Pew Research Survey that was weirdly not titled “Things You Already Know” showed a significant rise in the number of American households where both parents work full-time. Meanwhile, the annual cost of child care has risen to a hefty $11,000 a year. It can create a vicious cycle: Parents having to work more to cover the cost of being able to work more because they need to pay someone to care for their children. Make It Work is trying to end this insanity.

The organization devoted to pushing the issue of childcare into political debates before the next election describes itself as “a community of people who believe that hardworking Americans shouldn’t have to choose between being there for family and earning a living.” In a recent editorial for Politico, co-founder and co-executive director Vivien Labaton advocates for her group’s proposal, which seeks to “put high-quality child care within reach for working families” by subsidizing child care assistance for middle- and low-income families, locking it in at no more than 10 percent of household income, while also increasing the minimum wage of child care workers to ensure better care.

[youtube expand=1] If that sounds expensive, you’re right. Labaton admits Make It Work’s proposal would cost more than $150 billion a year. But her boldest assertion is that the program would eventually pay for itself. “Studies have found that the first 5 years of a child’s life are critical to children’s ability to learn social and emotional skills, as well as for setting them up to be good students and citizens later in life,” she writes. “The benefits are so significant that investments in high-quality early care and education yield $8 in economic returns for every dollar spent.”

That math is probably open to debate, but whatever the actual numbers, they’re surely less costly than the option a lot of politicians are pushing, which is not addressing America’s child care system at all.