Last night during his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a tripling of the child care tax credit to $3,000 for children under 5. “Tripling” the existing credit sounds amazing. Realizing that the credit is merely $1,000 right now is depressing as hell. Realizing that tripling it to $3,000 isn’t going to be much relief for a lot of families is the worst of all.
Childcare is insanely expensive in this country. The National Association of Childcare Resource and Referral Agency compiles yearly figures for what average American families are spending. It revealed this year that childcare can cost more than $16,000 a year for an infant and more than $12,000 for a four-year-old. Personally, I know many people who pay way more than that. I only have one of my children in daycare right now, part-time. If I had both of them in full-time daycare I would be paying those amounts as well. In 30 states, the cost of child care is more than the cost of in-state tuition at a four-year public state college.
APP.com notes, “The government spends $10 billion per year subsidizing child care to financially needy parents so they can continue to work, yet child care professionals are some of the lowest paid in the nation. The average salary for one of these workers was just $21,000.” How do we begin to fix this.
Watching the State of the Union is a sobering reminder of how far we have to go, when it comes to really helping families be set up for success in this economic climate. We don’t bat an eye when corporations get huge bailouts and tax breaks, but let a working family demand the same kind of government assistance and they are called, “moochers.” It’s like we’ve all been brainwashed to believe that getting any type of government assistance is a bad thing, when wealthy people get it all the time.
With two children under five, of course I’ll be thrilled if these proposed cuts pass. But we need so much more reform to really make a difference. Daycare workers need to be paid better and we need more government subsidies to make that happen. An average family shouldn’t have to struggle this hard and barely stay afloat. It’s just not right.
(photo: Getty Images)