While many Iowans pay more for childcare than housing each year, Biden’s Build Back Better plan would help lower that.
The centerpiece of the Build Back Better plan, in part, would invest billions of dollars into subsidizing child care for low and middle income families across the country. However, with the lack of support from Senate Republicans like Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, the bill faces a difficult road ahead.
“Partisan politics have again hurt Iowa’s working moms and dads. The Build Back Better Plan would have created more programs to subsidize childcare for all children,” Debbie Koopman, a childcare provider in Cedar Rapids, said.
On average, American families spend around $8,500 on childcare for a single child, while the average Iowan family pays around $10,500. That is more than the cost of one year of tuition at any of Iowa’s regent universities, positioning Iowa within the majority of states where childcare is more expensive than public colleges and universities.
The US Department of Health and Human Services classifies affordable childcare as costing seven percent of less of a family’s yearly income. In Iowa, however, childcare costs around 15 percent of the median annual income for the average family. According to the Economic Policy Institute, that means only one in 10 Iowans have the income to afford childcare.
“As a childcare center director of 37 years in the Cedar Rapids area, I know how families struggle to make ends meet. Our children benefit when these federal programs help provide high-quality, affordable child care,” Koopman said.
The Build Back Better Act would also help increase wages for healthcare providers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, nearly 12 percent of childcare providers live in poverty, compared to the national average of 5.8 percent. That means the average childcare provider would have to spend over 50 percent of their income to afford care for their own children.
Another component of the Build Back Better plan is universal pre-kindergarten for all three and four-year-old children. Studies show that greater investments in early childhood education lead to greater success in schools, higher graduation rates, and greater long-term earnings and success in their careers.
“Build Back Better includes a vital investment in early learning that is needed now more than ever,” Iowa State Representative and Early Childhood Educator Tracy Elhert said. “This investment creates some good steps at addressing access, affordability, and quality in early learning and includes policies and funding that would help build a stronger early learning system that works towards meeting the needs of providers, families, and the economy.“
If you’re interested in learning more about President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, you can read here at WhiteHouse.org.
Photo obtained from Canva