There are at least a billion reasons for American families to be optimistic about President Trump’s latest budget proposal.
That’s how many dollars the president’s fiscal year 2020 budget sets aside for major nationwide investments in child care, and it’s just one of many provisions designed to help working families.
For single mothers, working parents, and many other Americans, finding acceptable and adequate child care can be a struggle—especially in places like Wisconsin.
Child care directors across the state are struggling to find and retain workers, and researchers found that over half of Wisconsin children live in a “child care desert,” meaning there is just one open daycare slot for every three children.
According to Wisconsin Public Radio, many child care providers blame the worker shortage on poor benefits and low wages at their facilities, but say they’re unable to increase pay for child care workers without hiking tuition. On average, child care workers in Wisconsin earn a little over $10 per hour, but the director of one child care facility says 89 percent of the center’s revenue already goes toward salary and benefits.
This very problem was recently highlighted by White House Senior Advisor and First Daughter Ivanka Trump, who has played a leading role in crafting the administration’s family policy.
“You have care providers who are working at below poverty wages, you have parents who can’t afford the care, and you don’t have a robust ecosystem of facilities because it’s a low-margin business with high liability,” she said during a discussion at the White House with child care professionals, calling the current system “fundamentally flawed.”
To address this problem, President Trump’s FY 2020 budget calls for a one-time investment of $1 billion aimed at increasing the supply of child care to underserved populations.
States such as Wisconsin would be allowed to apply for funding that they could use to encourage employers to invest in child care or to support child care providers that serve parents who work nontraditional hours or are enrolled in school.
To access those funds, states would have to commit to a plan for “reducing unnecessary regulatory or other requirements that limit the supply or increase the cost of child care,” such as zoning requirements that prohibit child care centers in residential areas.
In addition to expanding the availability and affordability of child care, the president’s budget also seeks to make child care less obligatory for families with newborn infants, proposing that Congress provide at least six weeks of paid family leave for all new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents.
Regardless of where you live or work, affordable child care shouldn’t impede any American family from living the American dream, and President Trump’s 2020 budget offers a well-crafted approach to making that ideal a reality by employing a careful balance of both government assistance and private initiative.
The public has a significant stake in the well-being of America’s children, but parents are the ones who ultimately shoulder the responsibility for raising their children. The president’s paid family leave and child care proposals recognize that distinction by providing government resources to increase the availability and affordability of child care while also giving individual families the freedom to select the approach that works best for them.
In 2016, President Trump campaigned on fighting for the forgotten men and women of America, and that’s just what he’s doing with a child care policy that empowers families in Wisconsin and across the nation.