The True Cost of Free Childcare | Anna Zeigler

In July of last year, CNBC reported that then-Presidential nominee Joe Biden had a plan to, “fundamentally shift the way American families care for each other, both at the beginning of life and at the end.” Last week, President Biden introduced the American Families Plan. He is indeed hoping to change the way American families care for each other by using the strong arm of government to incentivize outsourcing childcare. The American Families Plan is not about helping American families; it will further destroy them. Add it to the heap of Orwellian leftist nonsense along with Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act. 

In addition to other proposed measures, Biden’s plan suggests an investment of $200 billion in universal preschool. Beyond the financial costs that inevitably accompany government programs, it is imperative we not lose sight of the other costs, the costs that cannot be as easily quantified. If implemented, Biden’s plan will continue the steady march toward obliterating the sanctity of the family unit by encouraging parents to turn their children over to the state at a tender age.

Too many politicians have latched onto the idea of universal preschool. Instead of questioning the need for universal preschool, elected officials simply accept that it is a good idea, assume their constituents are clamoring for it and willing to see their taxes raised to fund it, and never stop to ask whether or not the federal government has any role to play in the preschool arena (or the healthcare arena, or the elder care arena). I fully expect some in the GOP to respond to Biden’s plan with a plan of their own that is slightly less expensive and sounds slightly less Orwellian. 

Any idea preceded by “universal” ought to raise red flags. Universal suggests there is one good and true path that is ideal for all, so ideal and so necessary that it is imperative the government take more money from taxpayers in order to fund the universal solution. Whether it is healthcare, childcare, or elder care, the idea that there is a uniform plan that will work for all is laughable; equally laughable is the idea that the government is the best entity to oversee the implementation of said plan. 

In 1997, Quebec, Canada, implemented all-day, year-round daycare for all children under the age of 5. According to the Institute for Family Studies, within 10 years there was cause for concern with regard to the impact of the program: “Comparisons between children ages 2 to 4 who had been exposed to the program, with older children (and siblings) who had not, revealed significant increases in anxiety, hyperactivity, and aggression in those exposed to the program.” Research conducted 20 years after the program’s implementation showed the negative effects associated with exposure to Quebec’s program persisted, in some cases intensifying as the individual aged.

The responsibility of being a caregiver is tremendous. It can be physically, emotionally, and economically draining. Can families always handle these duties absent outside help? Certainly not, but as is almost always the case, it is better for the government to back off and allow private markets to meet the demands of the public. 

Pope John Paul II once said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” A government that is serious about the future of this nation will take seriously the role of the family unit and implement policies that encourage family ties. Rather than further taxing working parents, why not incentivize marriage and child-rearing via additional tax breaks? Stop taking the money mom and dad work hard for, leave more in their pockets, and make it an option for mama (or daddy) to stay home for a few years or cut back to work part-time while the children are young. At a minimum, the government should recognize that families have different needs, children have different needs, and it is hubristic folly to assume there is any universal solution to the myriad of caregiving needs of American families that ought to be foisted on the American public. 

Biden’s plan would indeed “fundamentally shift the way American families care for each other” in that it would incentivize families to outsource caring for their loved ones to government employees. 

Follow Anna Zeigler (@ajzeigler) on Twitter.

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