Affordable, quality child care remains a major concern for parents across the country and as the 2020 presidential election draws near, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has unveiled a plan for child care that addresses current shortages. On Tuesday, Biden's campaign introduced a plan that includes free preschool for all, a promise that lower and middle income families won't pay more than 7% of their annual income for child care, and higher pay for caregivers and early childhood educators.
"Today, I'm releasing my plan to mobilize a 21st century care and early childhood education workforce," Biden tweeted Tuesday. "It will ease the financial burden of care for families, create good-paying jobs with good benefits, and treat workers with the dignity they deserve."
In a Medium post outlining Biden's plan, his campaign noted the ongoing coronavirus pandemic had revealed how vital access to affordable quality care is for families, many of whom have since struggled to balance work with caregiving following school and care center closures. But while the current health crisis has exacerbated many of the challenges surrounding caregiving, Biden's campaign stressed these issues were present long before COVID-19.
"Even before the pandemic, our country was experiencing a caregiving crisis," the campaign said. "Often, families made caregiving decisions that came with great financial, professional, physical and emotional costs. Caregivers and early childhood educators — disproportionately women of color — have been underpaid, unseen, and undervalued for far too long."
As part of his plan, Biden would "immediately" extend fiscal relief to state, tribal, and local governments, enabling them to retain workers and keep vital public services such as child care running. To improve access to child care, Biden's plan proposes giving low-and-middle income families two options.
With option one, eligible families can receive a tax credit to help cover the cost of child care for children under the age of 13. Under Biden's plan, families with one eligible child who earn less than $125,000 would receive a refundable tax credit equal to half of their child care costs up to $8,000. Families with two or more children would receive a credit of up to $16,000 while families who earn between $125,000 and $400,000 would earn a partial credit under Biden's plan.
Option two would allow low-and-middle income families with children under 5 to forgo the refundable tax credit in favor of sliding scale subsidies based on the Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA). Under this option, families with an annual income that falls below 1.5 times the median income in their state will pay no more than 7% of their income toward child care. An analysis from the Center for American Progress estimated that under the sliding scale option, a typical family would pay no more than $45 a week for child care.
Biden's plan would also grant all 3- and 4-year-olds universal access to high-quality pre-kindergarten, a move the presumptive nominee argued would not only help families save on child care costs but could also help close the school readiness gap created by systemic racism. Biden's plan has also called for expanding access to after school, weekend, and summer care to ensure parents who work non-traditional hours can still find affordable, quality care.
In his plan, Biden also vowed to address the nation's child care shortage by implementing a new child care construction tax credit to encourage businesses to build safe, developmentally appropriate child care facilities. The presumptive nominee also proposed raising child care providers pay rates and extending educational opportunities and health care and paid sick, family and medical leave benefits to them.
"Even before the pandemic, millions of parents struggled to find a space for their child in a quality care and educational setting, keeping parents — primarily mothers — out of the workforce or causing them to settle for lower-paying jobs that allowed them time to provide their own child care," Biden's campaign noted. "The danger of a radical decline in the child care sector will increase the challenges parents face as they seek to return to work, make it harder for the economy to recover, and force many early childhood educators — who are disproportionately women of color — out of their jobs."