Woowee. is that headline an understatement. Childcare should be affordable. That’s not a radical idea but somehow, it really is.
The NPR affiliate here in DC did a piece today about the cost of childcare for people living in the greater metro area. The big takeaway is that is averages $24,000 per year for families to arrange infant care here. For reference, thats about what I spend on my mortgage payments every year.
Let that soak in. Childcare is an expense on par with housing.
There are a bunch of conservative responses to any story about the cost of childcare and they never actually address the problem in any meaningful way. There’s always that obnoxious jerk who says “Why can’t you stay home and raise your own kids, huh, huh, huh, why aren’t you June Cleaver? Be a better mom instead of a money-hungry career bitch!”
Never mind the stagnation of wages in the face of increasing costs of living mean that millions of families can’t survive on a single income. The real problem is women liking their jobs.
The other response is always to move someplace less expensive.
To that I say listen up and listen good: geography should not dictate a family’s ability to care for their children. Got it? Good.
See here’s the thing about being a parent: People with kids cannot effectively do anything unless they have secure plans for the kids. From the moment a child is born, ensuring the safety and security of that child is a 24/7 proposition. If you are a parent you know how this goes. You want to make plans to do literally anything and your first thought is “What can the kids do while I do X.” That’s true even if X is something as simple as going to a doctor appointment for yourself or picking up an extra shift at work. Unless you can arrange care for your kids, you can’t go. Period.
There are a lot of ways to skin the cat of childcare. We could subsidize the cost of care. Make care fully tax deductible. Implement universal pre-k so parents only need care from the ages of 1-3. We could extend the school year and fund after-school initiatives to cover the gaps that public school leaves. We could mandate paid parental leave that lasts more than 12 weeks and reduce the need for infant care.
Or we could raise fuckin’ wages to make life easier for everyone.
Americans don’t seem motivated to do any of these things. Instead, we moralize at each other about the best way to be a parent instead of supporting one another as we all try to raise our families. And all of that is why I continue to insist that America is not a family friendly country, no matter what we try to say.