The U.S. economy will not operate at its full potential unless government and employers remove impediments to full participation by women in the labor market. The failure to address structural problems in labor markets, tax, and employment policy that women face does more than hold back their careers and aspirations for a better life. Barriers to participation by women also act as brakes on the national economy, stifling the economy’s ability to grow. To address these problems, The Hamilton Project published this book featuring a host of public policies to promote women’s economic opportunity.
Child care is a necessity for working women with young children. However, the costs of high-quality center-based child care in the United States—particularly for children under age five—are prohibitively high for many families. In this proposal, Elizabeth Cascio describes a multifaceted approach to child-care policy that reduces the financial burden of child care, encourages maternal employment, and supports child development. The proposal would replace existing federal child-care tax policies with a single refundable federal child-care tax credit that is more generous to lower-income families and families with children under the age of five. To address child care quality, Cascio proposes investments in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems and in expansion of universal preschool for four-year-olds. State and local governments could pursue these investments on their own or with federal assistance.
In this policy memo, Elizabeth U. Cascio and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach propose a framework for state and local governments calling for the establishment of high-quality programs in areas where preschool programs do not exist, improved preschool quality in states and localities with subpar programs, and expanded access in areas where high-quality programs already exist. This proposal aims to reduce the income-based gap in school readiness between disadvantaged and higher-income preschool-aged children, and to improve school outcomes for disadvantaged preschool children. This proposal is chapter one of The Hamilton Project’s Policies to Address Poverty in America, and a segment in Promoting Early Childhood Development.