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IWN Staff
May 30, 2023 - 2 minutes
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In 60 Seconds: Child Care

We all want American children to be well cared for and ready for school. But the government should not unfairly subsidize one type of childcare (daycare/preschool) at the expense of all families.

Instead, we should empower all families to make the choices they feel are best for their children.

Here’s the issue of child care in 60 seconds:

What’s at Stake

We all want children well cared for and ready for school. But government shouldn’t favor one arrangement (daycare/preschool) over others. Instead, we should empower all families to make the best choices for their unique situations.

Most parents prefer family or home-based daycare. 

  • Most working mothers would prefer to work less and spend more time with their children. High taxes and living costs make it difficult for families to live on one salary.
  • Between 2005 and 2017, the number of home-based childcare providers fell by about 50 percent

Unfortunately, governments tend to subsidize larger, institutional childcare centers, making it harder for home-based centers to compete, and leaving families with fewer options.

Institutional daycare is parents’ least preferred option.

  • 53 percent of married and 40 percent of single mothers think one parent staying home is best for children.
  • Just 6 percent of parents think a quality daycare center is optimal.

Greater daycare or preschool enrollment does NOT improve outcomes and may cause harm.

  • A federal study of Head Start showed no academic benefits and some emotional harms.
  • While intensive programs can help very at-risk students, there’s no evidence of benefits for the general population.

The Better Way Forward:

Make daycare more affordable.

  • A Mercatus Center study found that low child-staff ratios did not improve the quality of child care, but significantly increased costs.
  • Increasing child-staff ratios by one infant, for example, could “reduce the annual cost of child care by between $850 and $1,890 per child across all states, on average.

Policymakers should support all families.
Rather than increasing subsidies for daycare, policymakers should help all families with young children by reducing tax and regulatory burdens and supporting strong, flexible labor markets so families can make the childcare decision that they feel is best.

Addressing Misperceptions

IWN Staff
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