There is a lot of discussion happening right now in the United States around whether or not childcare is infrastructure as part of the Biden Child Care Plan. As you may or may not know, child care is being included in President Biden’s infrastructure plan which has left some people scratching their heads. When we think of infrastructure, usually we think of roads, bridges, transportation. But, just because we think of infrastructure as being those items specifically, does that mean it’s true? Should we, as a country, have been considering child care as infrastructure all along? We think yes.
Let’s start by defining the word infrastructure.
the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.
In the past year of the Coronavirus pandemic, it has become clear that without appropriate child care being provided to working families, our society simply cannot operate. Women are leaving the workforce at staggering rates, companies are closing their doors because they can’t staff their open positions.
If a bridge or tunnel collapsed in your area, you would see a rush to fund the fixing of this issue because after all, that roadway is needed for people to get to work. It wouldn’t be a question that it was a problem to be addressed with public funds because it’s a public good and one that is necessary to ensure a steady economy. Approximately 76% of moms and 96% of dads with children under age 6 work full-time. Without adequate and affordable child care, we are already starting to see a large percentage of these employees leaving the workforce. So, if we see a bridge or road collapse as a detriment to our economy, shouldn’t child care be looked at through a similar lense as it pulls people out of the workforce? If we do not address this childcare crisis, rebuilding our local economies is impossible.
Prior to the pandemic, the rising costs of child care was already affecting the US workforce with families having to make difficult decisions. In 2016 alone, an estimated 2 million parents reduced work due to childcare issues. In 2021, a study was released that showed a large dip in national birth rates. Why? Many families of child bearing years stated that the cost of childcare, was a large deciding factor in their decision to not have children or to not have more children than they currently have. Many are deciding that it’s just not financially feasible for them to do. Without a robust population, we can’t guarantee a solid workforce or tax base.
Also, the argument could be made that even if we were to consider that child care in itself was not infrastructure, it is a necessary support system of infrastructure without which, infrastructure would potentially crumble. Without providing parents and employees with the opportunity to focus on work, the economy simply cannot run at full capacity. The Biden child care plan offers a solution for those struggling and puts us one step closer to many other developed countries in supporting working families.
As a parent myself, I fully understand the struggles of paying for child care and trying to shift your entire budget. With another child on the way, we will pay over $2000 per month for full-time daycare which for most is simply unattainable. Now some may say, “well if you can’t afford it, then don’t have kids.” But, honestly, is it really ridiculous to have a simple nuclear family of two parents and 2 children? Isn’t that the American dream. A nice house in the suburbs, 2.3 kids, and a dog? Why should the cost of childcare be a deterrent to having a small, beautiful family?
So, it is clear that while it may not be the most widely used or throughout definition, child care is a crucial component of the US economy and should be considered infrastructure.
To learn more about how Flexable is supporting working families, visit our “Flexibility is the Future of Work” page. For more information on the facts about the American Families Plan, visit their website.