In a proposal that could greatly affect American families, President Obama has laid out a plan aimed to make child care more affordable to all working parents.
Though the plan isn't technically "free child care," the government would offer a subsidy to three-person families (two parents, one child) who have a household annual income of less than $38,000. For families who earn more than that amount, they would receive a $3,000 tax credit per child, reports Al Jazeera. It's important to note that the plan doesn't shut out middle-class families, many of whom still struggle to afford the high cost of child care.
"[Obama's budget] recognizes that child care expenses are a challenge up and down the economic spectrum," said Bill Jaeger, who works with the Colorado Children's Campaign, to Al Jazeera. "Moderate income families are not eligible for [subsidies] and can't take advantage of the [current] tax credit. They are not able to afford the high cost of child care."
Parents who earn above the income bracket would not receive a tax return; rather, they would be issued a tax credit, lessening the amount that they must pay come tax season. Nonetheless, it could significantly affect families throughout the country.
A study from Child Care Aware found that in Oregon, the average cost of annual child care was $11,078, and the median income for a single mother was $21, 472, meaning that 51.6 percent of that household's income was going to daycare. Even more extreme was Massachusetts, where infant care costs $16,549 per year, and the media income for single mothers was $27,323, which comes out to a whopping 60.6 percent of that income that is going toward infant care.
"The question of what will actually happen this year is hard to answer, but it's a huge statement," said Executive Director of policy group CLASP Olivia Golden to Al Jazeera. "[The budget] is very responsive to the reality of people's lives."
However, before the plan can be implemented, the budget has to pass the Republican-controlled Congress.