Senate Democrats have pushed their gaze way to the left under the Trump administration, embracing a far more progressive policy about social issues such as childcare and healthcare. This has never been more apparent than their just-announced proposal to radically alter childcare, “The Child Care for Working Families Act.” Whether the bill is achievable or not (hint: it totally isn’t), its very presence points to a promising reimagining of the Democratic party. The legislation is akin to a Medicare for children: a comprehensive bill that would make childcare more affordable for more parents in the United States than ever, with a guaranteed support system from the federal government.
It’s no secret that childcare is extremely expensive. In half of the U.S. states, for example, enrollment in preschool was more expensive than in-state college tuition. Pre-school isn’t even full-time for most children, meaning that working parents need to find care for three-to-four days a week. Across the U.S., childcare centers for children who are four and under costs nearly $10,000 per year, and a full-time nanny can cost as much as $30,000 dollars a year. Not only is day care costly, it’s also barely regulated, and those who are supposed to be taking care of our children are underpaid and poorly trained.
All of this is to say that Democrats have seen a problem, and, they came up with a version of a comprehensive childcare bill on their own. Some of the most promising proposals are as follows:
- Doubling the number of children available for federal childcare assistance in the United States.
- Making sure that no family that makes under 150 percent of the state median income pays more than 7 percent of their income on childcare
- Providing federal funding to childcare centers to create more preschool and day care programs
- Help parents who work nontraditional hours or night shifts by providing childcare at all hours. (According to Vox, only a quarter of childcare is provided during evenings or weekends, which is a problem for many working families.)
- Increase both training and pay for child care professionals
There’s no doubt that the bill is dead in the water. Not only is the House controlled by Republicans, but so is the Senate, and they are much more likely to pass a bill that proposes childcare by tax cuts — such as Ivanka Trump’s own proposal — than one that is funded by federal spending. But still, it points to a good future.