Is There Hope for Better Child Care Policies and Programs in the US?
While the US has childcare policies, they’re carried out via not-so robust public programs except in states that have legislated their own child care statutes. Liberals through the progressive Democrats have been pushing for universal child care and early education laws, similar to those being provided by Scandinavian countries like Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland.
How Child Care Policies are Shaping Up Under the Biden Administration
Hopefully, positive changes will take place under the Biden administration, since this new president has been pushing for the inclusion of child care policies such as universal preschool, expanded Child Tax Credit and paid family leaves for medical purposes.
Actually, the Child Tax Credit has taken effect this year, for which 35.2 million qualified American families received the first monthly installment last July 2021. According to the IRS, they have credited a total of about $15 billion as advance tax credit payments covering as many as 60 million children and averaging $423 for each child.
In April of this year, US Democratic Senator Elizabth D. Warren of Massachusetts and House Representative Mondaire Jones (D-NY-17), reintroduced the bill embodying Universal Child Care and Early Learning laws. It’s a bicameral legislative proposal that aims to establish federal support for locally administered child care programs.
If the bill garners Congressional approval, it will ensure the availability of affordable and high quality child care services and early learning, to middle and low income families.
A Quick Look at Child Care and Early Education Policies in Scandinavian Countries
Scandinavian countries are popular for being family-friendly, as the national governments have made it compulsory for employers to give paid parental leaves to both mothers and fathers of new borns.
In Sweden, parents are allowed to have as many as 480 days in paid maternal and paternal, so they can devote quality time in giving care and raising their children from infancy stage up to their preschool years.
Although a set of 480 days paid leave must be consumed before a child turns eight years old, Swedish parents can still avail of paid leaves called “Vård av Barn” (VAB) when needing to look after a sick child. Moreover, they can choose to work for shorter periods when needing to maintain balance between work and family life.
To help Swedish parents meet the needs of their children, Swedish parents living together are entitled to receive a monthly allowance of SEK1250 for each child. Solo parents, on the other hand, receive SEK675 as monthly child care allowance.
In addition, preschools are required to provide quality day care services as they are partly subsidized by the government to ensure affordability. To make preschool daycare facilities accessible to all Swedish families, the government has imposed a maxtaxa policy that caps a limit to the fees charged, and in accordance with the economic status of a family.
Although Scandinavian countries like Sweden are not the wealthiest, they see to it that part of the high taxes collected from its citizens work toward providing support to families until their children reach the age of majority. Elementary up to Senior High Education is provided free in Sweden regardless of choice of school. Children’s medical and health care needs are likewise free, including the prenatal care, child delivery and postnatal medical services provided by hospitals.
Scandinavian nations are perfect examples of how governments are investing in families to ensure that the citizens of the future will advance in life in good health and with high levels of intellect.
In Sweden however, parental failure that affects the physical and/or mental well being of a child can have serious consequences. The government could take action by taking away a child from his or her parents.
That is why, a common obsession among Swedish parents is the use of baby monitors, preferably the babyvakt kamera type that lets them have a constant and clear visual of their babies and toddlers when sleeping or playing on their own in another room.