Childcare appears to be back on the federal political agenda. In 2017, Senator Patty Murray and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA 3rd District) proposed the Child Care for Working Families Act. Reintroduced in February 2019, the Act would cap parents’ out-of-pocket childcare expenses to 7% of household income. In March of this year, Ivanka Trump proposed a one-time, one billion dollar investment to spur the supply of private sector childcare. And even more recently, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has put forth a Universal Child Care and Early Learning Proposal that would establish a network of federally supported, locally run childcare centers. While the approaches vary, the variety of legislative ideas indicates that the current political moment may be propitious for addressing the high cost and lack of access to childcare in the United States, where infant care can exceed the cost of college tuition.
Childcare costs are not just a matter of family-level budgeting; they also have important ramifications for gender equity. In this Dialogue, the Gender Policy Report brings together a team of scholars to outline the ways the current U.S. childcare system contributes to gender inequities, suggest which policy directions might be most fruitful for addressing these inequities, and offer political strategies for change.