This is a chapter from The 51%: Driving growth through women’s economic participation, edited by Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and Ryan Nunn.
Child care is a necessity for working women with young children. Yet, the costs of high-quality center-based child care in the United States—particularly for children under age five—are prohibitively high for many families. In this proposal, I describe a multifaceted approach to child-care policy that reduces the financial burden of child care, encourages maternal employment, and supports child development. I propose to replace existing federal childcare tax policies with a single refundable federal child-care tax credit that is more generous to lower-income families and families with children under the age of five. To address child care quality, I propose investments in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems and in expansion of universal preschool for four-year-olds. State and local governments could pursue these investments on their own or with federal assistance.
The author did not receive financial support from any firm or person for this paper or from any firm or person with a financial or political interest in this paper. She is currently not an officer, director, or board member of any organization with an interest in this paper.