Parents are facing unprecedented challenges to their right to make decisions in their children’s lives — and it could get much worse.
The Democrats’ tax and spend agenda includes a “Toddler Tax” that would further usurp power from parents and hand over more control to the federal government through its $400 billion “Birth to Five” and pre-K plans.
The Democrats’ House-passed spending bill promises that taxpayer dollars will provide access to “top tier” child care. In reality, this reckless spending comes with many strings attached. New regulations for child care providers will result in higher costs, fewer providers, and less access to affordable care for working families. The plan also attacks basic freedoms by prohibiting parents from choosing faith-based providers over government-approved options.
In the halls of Congress and around the country, people of all political persuasions can agree that affordable child care is vital to the nation’s economic recovery and future success. However, the current vision of unlimited government spending and provider discrimination won’t yield the child care utopia that Democrats are promising.
As the Senate takes up consideration of the so-called Build Back Better plan, it’s imperative to understand the potentially devastating ramifications of putting Washington bureaucrats — not parents — in control of child care.
Behind closed doors, Democrats designed a program that methodically ratchets up federal requirements for child care providers, going beyond already-burdensome state regulations. Under the guise of “quality,” they created new mandates for wages and qualification requirements that will undermine existing providers that families count on every day.
We know this approach won’t work in cities and towns around the country because it’s already failed in Washington, D.C., the epicenter of big government. A similar proposal to create forced parity in wages in the District of Columbia was recently rejected after a report issued last month by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education pointed out that it would drive up prices. The District’s model, the report found, “could create unintended negative consequences to the child care market… [this] approach could reduce the number of providers participating in the subsidy program, increase child care costs for families not in the subsidy program, and destabilize the labor market for early child care workers across the entire sector.”
How much is the "Toddler Tax?" The left-leaning People's Policy Project estimates that wage requirements associated with the new child care entitlement could raise child care costs by $13,000 a year for unsubsidized middle-class families. Wages are just one component of a litany of new federal child care regulations that would increase costs and could push smaller, home-based providers out of the market altogether.
Inexplicably, the Democrats’ bill would also force every parent who needs help paying for child care to pull children out of faith-based and community church child care. This proposal changes long-standing federal policy allowing parents to choose the child care provider that best meets their needs through vouchers, including faith-based providers. Faith-based organizations play an important role in society. According to a survey by the Bipartisan Policy Center, 53% of working families who use center-based care choose centers and preschools affiliated with religious organizations. It’s easy to understand that these trusted providers have strong connections to the needs of families in their communities.
Every week, parents tell me they’re concerned about what’s being taught in public schools these days. Now, Democrats want to take over our children’s education at an even earlier age and end faith-based options where love and compassion are on the agenda.
If you think parents are paying attention now, just wait to see what happens when they find out their only option for day care is a Washington-approved provider.
In the midst of their Build Back Better pep rallies, I wonder how many Democrats have even looked at the rules in these new child care programs or considered whether this is the “solution” parents want.
If Democrats succeed in jamming through their radical agenda, these programs could expire in 2027 — but the shock waves of skyrocketing costs, fewer child care choices, and lost opportunities for our children will remain far longer.
Jackie Walorski, a Republican representing Indiana's second district in the U.S. House of Representatives, serves as a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and is the top Republican of the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee.