The US must invest public money in early childcare: study
WASHINGTON, – The United States needs to invest more public money in early childcare, a sector hit hard by the pandemic, according to a study by the Boston Federal Reserve released Monday.
The sector was already struggling, and “the pressures caused by the virus are continuing to chip away at its fragile foundation,” said the study by economists Beth Mattingly of the Boston Federal Reserve and Jess Carson of the University of New Hampshire.
“We know how to fix childcare, people have been studying this for years. There’s one way, and that’s with more money. Without increased investment, the sector is at risk,” Mattingly is quoted as saying in a press release on the study.
The idea of spending more tax dollars on childcare may scare some, Carson added, but that was a case of being “penny-wise and pound foolish,” she said.
There is no public childcare system in the United States. Parents can use private facilities that cost several thousand dollars a month — for one in four families, more than 10 percent of their income, the study showed.
Alternatives are facilities linked to places of worship or other community-based organizations. Half of American families live in a childcare “desert.”
The study noted that the spread of remote working could increase demand for childcare in residential areas.
But if demand is low, establishments already in difficulty could close, throwing up yet another obstacle to economic recovery from the pandemic as parents struggle to find care for their children.
Safety equipment required by the pandemic has added to the high costs, but salaries are low, with the study indicating that even before the pandemic child care workers were in a precarious economic condition.