The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Child Care Money Stolen

Sep 18, 2023

In the wealthiest country in the world, child care has long been starved of federal funds. Families pay more for child care in the U.S. than in the rest of the industrialized world. The arrival of the Covid pandemic and the school and child care closings that came with it, pushed women out of the workforce to care for children. A labor shortage developed. Suddenly the federal government “found” more money for child care!

A 2021 Covid relief package put 24 billion extra dollars into child care funding in the U.S. This money added 5 years’ worth of “normal” federal funding to what providers were getting. Child care centers were able to stay open and even add spots. Some child care workers got modest raises. Today, with child care somewhat available, women have rejoined the workforce in almost record numbers.

Yet this way-too-little money is about to be stolen from working families and child care centers. On September 30, 2023, the federal Child Care Stabilization Program will expire. That 24-billion-dollar federal subsidy will disappear. Child care costs to families will rise. Already between 2005 and 2017, about 100,000 licensed child care facilities went out of business, making child care harder to find.

This money disappearing will add a new crisis to the old child care crisis. Record inflation has meant child care centers saw costs skyrocket for food, rent, utilities, and instructional materials. Once this stabilizing money disappears, there are estimates that 70,000 more child care centers are expected to close.

Lack of child care will force parents, often women, to again leave the workforce. Or it will force a cycle of quitting jobs for each child care crisis before going back to work. A 2022 study found that one in four parents of children under the age of three were fired due to problems resulting from a breakdown in child care.

Child care is a broken system in the U.S. The capitalists who run this whole society have no desire to pay for high-quality free child care. A decent society would provide free daycare and early childhood education as a bare minimum. Just like public education for workers’ children was won only by struggle, free early childhood education and care will only be won by struggle.