Child Care Gets Rare Attention from Presidential Candidates

With only a handful of weeks left in this presidential election, Kids Action examines the two major-party candidates' positions on one of Kids Action's top legislative priorities: child care. By Alexandra Littleton
Child Care Gets Rare Attention from Presidential Candidates

Frequent readers of the Kids Action blog will recall that one of our top priorities is to help ensure that all working parents have access to affordable and high-quality child care -- a key building block for all kids but one that is out of reach to millions of parents today. And that's why we are excited to see that both major-party candidates for president have made statements -- Clinton starting in May 2015 and Trump in August 2016 -- about what child care policies they would pursue if elected. This blog briefly compares the two candidates' positions. While their plans differ significantly, the good news is that both candidates are talking about the importance of child care.

Trump: According to his campaign, Donald Trump proposes to make child care more affordable by offering parents tax incentives and creating new savings accounts.

  • Allow single parents making less than $250,000 and married couples making less than $500,000 per year to deduct the average cost of child care in their state for each child for up to four children.
  • Lower-income parents (who earn no more than $31,200 per year and who don't owe enough federal income tax to make deductions) would receive a boost in their Earned Income Tax Credit of up to $1,200 per year.
  • Cover stay-at-home parents as well as working families.
  • To encourage saving for child care, establish a new Dependent Care Savings Account, where families could deposit up to $2,000 per child in pretax income per year. The program would match contributions from lower-income families by 50 percent up to $500 total.

Concerns have been raised that the Trump plan primarily benefits upper-income families, because they have more taxable income from which to deduct costs and more disposable savings to deposit into the new savings accounts. Concerns also have been raised that there is no detail about how he would pay for the lost tax revenue and that he does not address how to improve the quality of care.

Clinton: According to her campaign, Hillary Clinton would increase the quality of child care and make it more affordable to lower- and middle-income families.

  • Limit family child care costs to no more than 10 percent of a family's income, by providing tax relief for the cost of child care to working families, increasing federal investments in child care subsidies for lower-income families, and providing scholarships of up to $1,500 for parents who are in school.
  • Raise the salary of child care workers and other early childhood educators.
  • Double federal investment in Early Head Start and the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership program.

Concerns have been raised that the Clinton plan does not detail how it would finance the goal of limiting child care costs to 10 percent of a family's income and whether it is possible to keep costs down while increasing quality.

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