This year, more American voters than ever before know how much child care matters.
If that wasn’t clear to anyone before this year, the coronavirus pandemic made it so. 84 percent of surveyed voters say child care is an essential service, and know the sector deserves much more support and attention from the government. The media’s listening, too — child care has seen a huge boost in coverage during this election cycle.
But how have the politicians responded?
With only a few weeks to the presidential election, it’s important you know how child care stands on the ballot. Down below, I’ll lay out an overview of how the two major candidates, Democratic nominee Joe Biden and incumbent Donald Trump, have pledged to support the child care sector through their policy. After that, I’ll give you some resources on how you can cast your vote safely and securely.
To be clear, I’m not trying to tell you to vote one way or another here — and campaign promises don’t always become real policy, unfortunately. This is just to help you get you up to speed on what this election could hold for child care.
Having said that, let’s dive in.
Joe Biden, Child Care and the US Election
In the run-up to this election, Joe Biden’s stance on child care seems to have echoed the voices of Democratic politicians such as Senators Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, who have called for massive reforms and support packages to the child care sector.
This July, Biden’s campaign announced a $775 billion plan to revamp the US caregiving system, including elder care, disability care, and of course child care. $325 billion of that money is earmarked for child care.
Here’s how Biden’s campaign promises to help child care:
- Provide all 3- and 4-year-olds access to free, high-quality child care. Biden’s plan does this by partnering with states to subsidize care through public schools, child care centers, family providers and Head Start.
- Invest in staff training, improved curriculum, smaller class sizes and diverse hiring practices. The campaign says they’ll do this through partnerships with individual states, but hasn’t yet attached a dollar amount to this initiative.
- Introduce incentives for child care centers that operate in off-hours and weekends. The plan would also benefit centers located in rural communities, or places with a lack of child care options — but again, the campaign hasn’t yet outlined what these incentives will be.
- Increase child care workers’ pay, introduce benefits like family and medical leave and sick leave. The campaign also promises to expand workers’ access to form unions and collectively bargain, and access ongoing professional training. Yet again, the campaign hasn’t given solid metrics on what these wage raises or benefits would look like.
- Introduce construction tax credits to encourage businesses to build child care facilities at their workplaces. Employers would receive 50% of the first $1 million of construction costs per facility.
- Invest in building new child care facilities and upgrading existing facilities. This would include disability accommodations and new safety measures. While also lacking solid numbers or dollar amounts here, the campaign projects this initiative “will lead to tens of thousands of new child care facilities across the country.”
Donald Trump, Child Care and the US Election
Trump’s campaign website has no information about specific policies to support child care in the coming term. His ‘Promises Kept’ website mentions child care once, referencing his 2019 funding increase to the Child Care Development Block Grant.
So, it’s hard to get a concrete picture of any support to the child care sector if Trump wins another term. But in evaluating how his administration would serve child care in the next four years, it’s also worth looking at how his administration has supported the sector during his first term.
Trump recognized the need for strengthening American child care back in 2016 while campaigning, promising to increase the availability of child care and to make it more affordable for families. Since taking office, however, these policies have not been enacted, and child care has not been a focus of his administration in any significant sense.
Even as proposed policy, Trump’s position on child care has drawn criticism from child care advocates as well as bipartisan policy researchers. In 2017, after the Trump administration outlined its tax code reform to support child care, the Tax Policy Center found that the proposals would disproportionately benefit wealthier families:
“Our analysis finds that about 70 percent of benefits go to families with at least $100,000 and 25 percent of benefits go to families with at least $200,000. Very few benefits go to the lowest income families who are likely to struggle most with paying for child care,” the report writes.