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Tue Apr 20, 2021, 03:49 PM

*The American Families Plan*- Biden's Next Big Plan Will Be An Investment In America's Families

- The American Families Plan - Daily Kos, April 20, 2021. - Ed. ~ Go Jo!

President Joe Biden doesn’t plan to stop with the American Jobs Plan, his much-needed effort to bring U.S. infrastructure into the 21st century. Even as the White House continues to negotiate that package with Congress, we’re getting early signs about the American Families Plan, the 2nd part of Biden’s Build Back Better plan—which would be his 3rd major legislative accomplishment, with the American Rescue Plan COVID-19 relief having been the first. The Washington Post reports the American Families Plan will likely be unveiled before Biden’s April 28 address to a joint session of Congress, and is currently expected to include around $1 trill in spending and $500 bill in new tax credits.

According to the Post, “While final numbers had not been determined, the largest efforts are expected to center on roughly $225 bill for child-care funding; $225 bill for paid family and medical leave; $200 bill for universal prekindergarten instruction; hundreds of billions in education funding, including tuition-free community colleges across the country; and other sums for nutritional assistance, the people familiar with the matter said.” With the caveat that this is all very, very preliminary, let’s consider some of these policies. Child care is a huge need that the coronavirus pandemic made all the more visible, with millions of women having left the paid workforce in large part because their child care—already expensive and hard to come by before the pandemic—has evaporated. The situation before March 2020 wasn’t viable, either, though.

In 2019, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that “For families in households with incomes less than the federal poverty level who pay for child care, child care costs average 30% of their income, compared to 18% for families with incomes between 100 and 200% of poverty and 7% for families making over 200% of poverty.” And there was little government assistance available, with just one in 6 of the theoretically eligible children actually getting any assistance.
Universal prekindergarten follows on and in some cases comes in the same settings as earlier child care. There are many models of programs that have shown success, with attention to equity and to developmentally appropriate programs (prekindergarten is not “first grade for 4 -year-olds,” as one expert put it), but done right, it can help close achievement gaps and can increase maternal workforce participation.

Investment in universal prekindergarten and child care should also include improved wages and benefits for the sorely underpaid workers—overwhelmingly women, many of them women of color—in the industry. Paid family leave is critical. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, just over half of workers get unpaid leave for things like caring for a new baby or a sick family member, or recovering from their own illness or injury, while 9 states and DC have paid leave programs. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act included a temporary emergency paid family and medical leave provision, but U.S. workers and families need something more, something not temporary. Community college is a key source of affordable (relatively speaking) higher education and vocational training, a place that traditional college-age students can get a certificate or 2 -year degree or start college without accumulating too much debt before transferring to a 4 -year institution, while older adults can return to school to change careers or gain new training...


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