- “Instead of saying we are going to send hundreds of billion dollars to government-approved child care centers, we instead say we are going to provide that funding to families and let families make the decision of how they are going to care for their children.” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) Tweet This
- "[F]unneling our nation’s children into massively expanded, publicly-funded day care is very different than enabling families to have their own financial resources to make their own choices about the care they want for their children," Jenet Erickson. Tweet This
- "[In Hispanic culture] that bond between family members is thought of as a treasure and as something that is worth more than one person’s potential wage earnings." Prof. Margarita Mooney Suarez Tweet This
Government should empower parents to make their own decisions about how to care for their young children with a monthly child allowance, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told Institute for Family Studies (IFS) senior fellow W. Bradford Wilcox last week during the inaugural episode of Family Matters, a new IFS/Deseret News webinar. Moderated by Wilcox and produced jointly with the Deseret News, Family Matters is a monthly webinar that will feature compelling conversations about some of the key issues facing American families today—from work-family balance, to the decline of marriage and fertility, to how we can renew a robust family and marriage culture in the 21st century.
For our first program on May 26, “Cash or Child Care: What Do American Parents Want?” Sen. Romney and Wilcox were joined by BYU professor and IFS senior fellow, Jenet Erickson, and Margarita Mooney Suarez, Professor of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, to discuss how to best relieve the work-family stresses facing so many American families today.
During the 30-minute conversation, Sen. Romney detailed how his proposed “Families Security Act” legislation would help empower American families. He stressed that parents know better than Washington about how to care for kids. “Instead of saying we are going to send hundreds of billions of dollars to government-approved child care centers,” Romney said, “we instead say we are going to provide that funding to families and let families make the decision of how they are going to care for their child.” He explained that his legislation is about:
giving parents the financial resources to make the decision of where they want their children cared for. If they want center-based care, that’s fine, they can use the money they receive for center-based based care. Our view is don't give the money to the centers; give the money to the parents and let the parents make the decision...
When asked whether there was a “path forward” for his “Family Security Act,” the senator told Wilcox that he met with President Biden and his economic advisor earlier this year to discuss his proposal, although there have not been any recent discussions, “because we’re really occupied by the infrastructure proposal the president’s put out.” However, he is optimistic about the legislation’s future. “I do believe that when this goes to the front burner legislatively, that we are going to see not only my plan but Sen. Lee and Sen. Rubio (R-FL) also have a plan, Sen. Hawley (R-MO) has a plan,” Romney said, “and we’ll probably come together amongst ourselves to see which is the best architecture and then negotiate with the White House.”
Also joining the discussion was Professor Margarita Mooney Suarez, who discussed a new IFS research brief on the child care prefrences and practices of Hispanic parents, who are the least likely to prefer center-based child care: only 14% of Hispanic parents think full-time paid child care is best for their families, compared with 19% of whites, 20% of Asians, and 25% of Black parents.
“Clearly, a majority of Hispanic parents prefer to keep their children out of center-based care,” Mooney Suarez said, emphasizing that the report shows “just how important the family is as the center-piece of Hispanic culture,” where “the idea of the family is that the household is one single economic and social unit, and as a part of that, certain parts of the family make sacrifices for the well-being of others.” She also pointed out that Hispanic culture is multigenerational and that “decisions [about child care] are made in reference to wanting to live in close proximity to extended kin, to grandparents.” She went on to explain that the findings show that:
Hispanic families in the U.S., the majority of them want to have their children at home, and...this is thought of as contributing to the well-being overall of the family and…to really developing the bond between the children and their parents, the grandparents, and extended family. And that relationship, that bond between the family members is thought of as a treasure and as something that is worth more than one person’s potential wage earnings.
Finally, IFS senior fellow Jenet Erickson discussed the harms of extended hours in child care for young children based on research from Quebec and in the U.S., emphasizing that “not all day care is bad. In fact, intensive high-quality day care for disadvantaged children can be helpful, but rapid expansion of programs where children spend extensive hours in day care…is usually associated with increased risks.” In Quebec, for example, she reported that children from two-parent families who participated in Quebec’s universal child care program experienced a host of negative outcomes, including “decreased health and life satisfaction across development, increased anxiety, aggression, and hyperactivity, and even increased crime rates,” findings that were consistent with studies in the United States.
"[F]unneling our nation’s children into massively expanded, publicly-funded day care is very different than enabling families to have their own financial resources to make their own choices about the care they want for their children," Erickson stated. "And what [Romney’s plan] recognizes is the differences in children’s needs…the differences in parents’ desires—differences that are cultural...all of those are important if we really care about children."
Watch and share the full Family Matters conversation, “Cash or Child Care?” here.