- Why don’t we just give parents the choice about how to best care for their young children? Tweet This
- The advantage of a broad-based child allowance is that it ensures that all families, not just those with both parents in the labor force, get about $350 dollars per month to pay for whatever approach to caring for their kids they deem best. Tweet This
- What is striking in the data on ordinary Americans’ preferences about how best to combine work and family when young children are at home is that no one preference captures the majority of the public’s allegiance. Tweet This
President Biden’s $1.8-trillion American Families Plan suffers from a common problem in work-family policy today. Much of it favors the family preferences of one group, our elites, rather than giving parents of every social background the choices they really want. “I think the Biden child care proposal was frankly designed by people who think the ideal family model is two parents working full-time and outsourcing child care,” observed author and potential Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance. “That is a problem because most people who live in the country don't want that.”
Vance’s point is that the Biden administration’s plan to spend an extra $225 billion to expand child care, after already boosting child care spending by $40 billion in the American Rescue Plan, ends up supporting just one model of family life. That model is one in which both parents of young children work full-time and delegate the care of those children to institutional daycare. This is the most popular model for the American upper-class, according to a recent YouGov survey by American Compass.
This is also the model the White House is clearly the most enamored with. “We want parents to be in the work force, especially mothers,” Susan Rice, head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told The New York Times. The only problem with the White House’s view is that it is not shared by a majority of the middle class, working class or the poor. Their favorite model when it comes to caring for young children? Having one parent work and one parent at home.
Though, to be honest, what is striking in the data on ordinary Americans’ preferences about how best to combine work and family when young children are in the home is that no one preference captures the majority of the public’s allegiance. Some parents prefer a stay-at-home parent, others kin care, others a home daycare and still others institutional child care. Given the profound pluralism on this question, why don’t we just give parents the choice about how to best care for their young children?