- Creating a young child tax credit of $1,500, in addition to the $1,000 families already receive, and supporting states’ efforts to expand and strengthen home-visiting programs for families with young children are two of the recommendations for improving outcomes for young children announced Thursday by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC).
- The BPC’s Early Childhood Initiative, chaired by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former California Rep. George Miller, is also calling for Congress to double funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which serves children up to age 5, and for the U.S. Department of Education to make it easier for early-childhood educators to receive tuition assistance so they can continue their education.
- The report also calls for increased attention to the impact of parents' opioid abuse on young children and recommends that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act be amended to better serve young children who have parents with substance use disorders.
The broad plan covers the wide range of issues that affect young children’s development and preparation for school, including whether they live in safe and nurturing homes and whether they have access to quality early learning opportunities in the community.
“Whether parents are able to stay at home or have to arrange for child care outside the home so they can work, many aren’t able to make the choices they believe would ensure their young children receive the quality care and learning opportunities that are critical for healthy early development,” Miller and Santorum write in the report. They added that early-childhood development is an issue that “ought to unite lawmakers across the political spectrum given the enormity of the stakes and our shared interest in better early childhood outcomes.”
They are also recommending doubling the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit from $3,000 to $6,000 from $6,000 to $12,000 for two or more children. The credit covers children up to age 13 and applies to expenses for summer and after-school programs. There is speculation that President Trump, who made child care affordability a part of his campaign platform, has considered a similar plan. And in September, Senate Democrats introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would limit child care costs to 7% of a family’s annual income, help states create preschool programs and enable more Head Start grantees to offer full-day programs.