Addressing the child care crisis

Addressing the child care crisis

The need to provide access to affordable child care for low- and middle-income families has emerged as a rare point of bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill, as leaders in both parties have put forward ambitious plans to address the crisis. As Claire Cain Miller explains in The New York Times, both sides want to offer families year-round care, prioritize low-income families and cap out-of-pocket costs at 7% of income. But there also are important differences in the size and scope of the plans:

Researchers say wages for child care workers are a key aspect of improving quality and availability. Their median hourly pay is $12. The Democrats’ plan calls for workers to earn a “living wage” (though it does not specify what that is) and one that is equivalent to an elementary teacher with the same degree. The Republicans’ plan calls for bonuses and retention grants, but would not require an overall base wage increase.

The GOP plan does not come with a specific dollar figure, but instead relies on expanding existing Child Care Development Block Grants. The Democrats are proposing to spend at least $382 billion over six years. 

Environmental racism in Louisiana 
Black communities in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” have endured decades of industrial pollution and high rates of illness, particularly cancers. Last year, a new investigative report showed that the 85-mile corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge had the unhealthiest air in the country, thanks largely to the proliferation of large petrochemical factories along that stretch of the Mississippi River. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency has begun investigating whether state regulators discriminated against Black residents in decisions about when to grant permits to industrial facilities. The Times-Picayune | Advocate’s Mark Schleifstein has the story

The investigation of (the Department of Environmental Quality) will review whether it administers its air pollution control program in ways that either have the intent or effect of subjecting individuals to racial discrimination, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and EPA’s own regulations. The probe will also focus on the state’s handling of Denka’s permits. The investigation of the health department will include a review into whether it subjects Black residents of the parish to discrimination by failing to provide them, other state agencies and other communities with information about health threats from Denka and other nearby sources of pollution. 

Husbands are not the solution to poverty 
Many jobs in the United States don’t pay a high enough wage to support a
family on a single income. Unfortunately, Congress hasn’t proposed an
economic solution for an economic problem, instead focusing on the opinion that poverty rates among single mothers would drop if only they were married. The Rand Corporation’s Kathryn A. Edwards explains in Bloomberg that poor, single mothers need money, not husbands, to get by. 

(I)f lawmakers want to encourage women to work, there are much better ways: Research unambiguously demonstrates that the two most important policies are mandatory paid family leave and broadly subsidized child care. The U.S. remains the only developed country with neither. Congress enshrined into law the opinion that mothers should be married. However hollow that 1996 avowal to marriage was, Congress has not, in the 25 years since, said that mothers should have paid family leave, or affordable child care, or a wage that lifts a family out of poverty. The persistence of poverty among unmarried mothers offers a reminder that economic problems need economic solutions.

The Great Resignation hits statehouses
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused millions of Americans to reassess their priorities, quit their jobs and launch into new careers and ventures. State legislators are not immune to the trend. As RouteFifty’s Daniela Altimari reports, young lawmakers across the country, burned out by long hours and low pay, are quitting their jobs or declining to run for re-election. The trend could affect the racial and gender makeup of state capitols as many states have elections this fall. 

The looming departures have the potential to shake up power dynamics in many of the 46 states holding legislative elections this year. They also have raised concerns that statehouses may become less diverse, as women, people of color, younger people and LGBTQ lawmakers leave public service out of economic necessity. … Concerns about low pay loom largest for lawmakers in their 20s, 30s and early 40s, said Layla Zaidane, president and CEO of the Millennial Action Project, a bipartisan association for legislators born after 1980.

Number of the Day
$16,800 – Base salary for state legislators in Louisiana. Crítics argue that the low rate of legislative pay locks people who aren’t already wealthy or retired out of representing their communities (Source: National Council of State Legislators