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The reality is that child care in America is expensive and out of reach for many families. Whether center-based or family child care, the average cost of child care nationally exceeds US$8,600 per year.
By comparison, that is more than double the estimated average net tuition and fee price of $4,140 paid by full-time in-state students at public four-year institutions in the 2017-18 academic year.

事實上,美國的兒童保育費用昂貴,許多家庭無法負擔。無論是護理中心還是家庭兒童保育,全國兒童保育的平均成本每年都超過8600美元。
相比之下,這一數字是2017-18學年公立四年制大學全日制在校生平均學費(4140美元)的兩倍多。

There are other good reasons why child care affordability should get just as much attention as college affordability, if not more.
For starters, families typically use child care for five years per child – a year longer than earning a bachelor’s degree is supposed to take.

還有其他充分的理由說明(如果不是更多的話),兒童保育負擔能力應該和大學負擔能力一樣受到重視。
首先,家庭通常為每個孩子提供五年的保育服務,比獲得學士學位所需的時間長一年。

A matter of timing
Further, child care lacks the financing options, such as loans and grants, that many middle-class families use for college costs – and this despite the fact that parents don’t have years to save for child care like they do for college. Additionally, child care costs are typically highest during families’ lowest earning years.

時間問題
此外,兒童保育缺乏許多中產階級家庭用于大學費用的融資選擇,如貸款和助學金——盡管事實上,父母沒有像上大學那樣為兒童保育儲蓄多年。此外,在家庭收入最低的年份,兒童保育費用通常最高。

For low-income families, public early care and education programs provide limited benefits, but the system is underfunded. For example, only 40 percent of 4-year-olds from poor families attend Head Start. In 2012, only 25 percent of eligible children received child care subsidies. In 2016, 20 states had waiting lists or frozen intake for child care assistance, and many low-income families remain confused about eligibility requirements and the application process.

對于低收入家庭,公共早期護理和教育項目提供的福利有限,該系統資金不足。例如,來自貧困家庭的4歲兒童中只有40%參加“早期教育計劃”。2012年,只有25%的符合條件的兒童獲得了兒童保育補貼。2016年,有20個州的兒童保育援助申請被列入候補名單或被凍結,許多低收入家庭仍然對申請資格和申請流程感到困惑。

The federal child and dependent care tax credit – which allows parents to deduct eligible child care costs from their taxes – is capped at $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for two or more children, and is not refundable, meaning it does not benefit the lowest-income families that don’t earn enough to owe taxes. In 2015, the average credit was $565 – a drop in the bucket compared to child care expenses.
What results is that families with children aged 5 years or younger spend an average of 10 percent of their income on child care. Families that live in poverty spend 30 percent of their income on child care.

聯邦兒童和撫養人稅收抵免——允許父母從稅收中扣除符合條件的兒童護理費用——最高限額為一個孩子3000美元,兩個或更多孩子6000美元,不能退還,這意味著它不能惠及收入不足以繳納稅款的最低收入家庭。2015年,平均信貸為565美元——與兒童保育費用相比,這只是杯水車薪。結果是,有5歲或5歲以下兒童的家庭平均將其收入的10%用于兒童保育。生活在貧困中的家庭將其收入的30%用于兒童保育。

Over the last decade, several states and cities like New York City, the District of Columbia and San Antonio have created public preschool programs that serve children from low- and higher-income families. Georgia and Oklahoma were the pioneers on this front, beginning their universal prekindergarten programs in the 1990s. Also in recent years, five states and the District of Columbia passed laws to create paid family leave programs. Both universal preschool and paid family leave programs are important for promoting children’s development. But what warrants much greater investment and policy attention is the gap between age 8 weeks – when parental leave ends – and ages 3 or 4, when preschool begins.

在過去的十年里,一些州和城市,如紐約市、哥倫比亞特區和圣安東尼奧市,已經建立了面向低收入和高收入家庭兒童的公立學前教育項目。喬治亞州和俄克拉何馬州是這方面的先驅者,在20世紀90年代開始了他們的全民學前教育項目。同樣在最近幾年,5個州和哥倫比亞特區通過了法律,設立了帶薪家庭休假項目。普及學前教育和帶薪探親假項目對促進兒童發展都具有重要意義。但值得更多投資和政策關注的是,8周(育兒假結束時)和3、4歲(學前教育開始時)之間的差距。



Decades of research show the many benefits of high-quality early care and education. Right now, unequal access to high-quality child care is exacerbating social and economic inequality. Speaking as a researcher in the field of child care for more than a decade, I believe that access to high-quality early learning opportunities needs to be expanded to narrow achievement gaps.

數十年的研究表明,高質量的早期保育和教育有許多好處。目前,獲得高質量兒童保育的不平等正在加劇社會和經濟不平等。作為一名在兒童保育領域工作了十多年的研究人員,我認為需要擴大獲得高質量早期學習機會的途徑,以縮小成就差距。

Labor costs and salaries
So how is it that it costs more to drop your baby or toddler off at day care than it does for your young adult child to attend college?It’s not that child care teachers are paid generously. The median hourly wage for child care workers was only $10.18 in 2016 – less than the median hourly wage of $10.45 for parking lot attendants. Many earn salaries so low they are eligible for or receive public assistance.

勞動力成本和工資
那么,送孩子去日托所花的錢怎么比送孩子上大學還多呢? 這并不是說幼兒教師的工資報酬很慷慨。2016年,兒童保育工作者的時薪中值僅為10.18美元,低于停車場服務員的時薪中值10.45美元。許多人的工資太低,以至于他們有資格獲得或接受公共援助。

But it is still the cost of teachers that makes child care cost more than college. The majority of child care expenses cover labor costs. That’s because child care teachers – for numerous health, safety and developmental reasons – are only permitted to be responsible for small groups of children. The allowable child-to-teacher ratios vary from state to state. For example, Early Head Start programs require ratios of four infants to one caregiver and cap class sizes at eight children.

但是,仍然是教師的成本使兒童保育成本高于大學。大部分兒童保育費用包括勞動力成本。這是因為兒童保育教師——出于許多健康、安全和發展方面的原因——只允許對小群體的兒童負責。允許的師生比因州而異。例如,早期的學前教育計劃要求四名嬰兒與一名護理人員的比例,并將規模上限設定為八名兒童。

Simply put, many ordinary business principles – such as increased productivity among workers or economies of scale – simply do not apply in the world of child care.

簡而言之,許多普通的商業原則——例如工人生產率的提高或規模經濟——根本不適用于兒童保育領域。

Greater investments needed
So what can be done to both improve the quality and increase the affordability of child care? My co-authored book, “Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality,” provides a comprehensive plan for doing so. The book recommends a mix of paid parental leave, enhanced child care subsidies, universal preschool and a reimagined Head Start to begin at or before birth.

需要更大的投資
那么,怎樣才能既提高兒童保育的質量,又提高其負擔能力呢?我的合著書《從搖籃到幼兒園:一個消除不平等的新計劃》提供了一個全面的計劃。這本書推薦了帶薪育兒假、加強兒童保育補助、普及學前教育和在出生時或出生前就開始早期教育。

At a minimum, I believe there should be greater investment in the early years, particularly in expanding the child care subsidy system to serve more children and families and to pay child care providers amounts that reflect the price of high-quality care. The additional $2.9 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program included in the recent budget deal is a great first step, and could serve an estimated 230,000 additional children in 2018.

至少,我認為應該在早期加大投資,特別是擴大兒童保育補貼制度,為更多的兒童和家庭提供服務,并向兒童保育提供者支付反映高質量護理價格的金額。最近的預算協議中增加了29億美元用于兒童保育和發展計劃,這是一個偉大事業的第一步,預計2018年將為新增23萬名兒童提供服務。

States should use these funds to support child care for infants and toddlers, the group for whom care is most expensive and hardest to find. States could also use funds to help train and retain high-quality teachers, including providing compensation that matches their educational qualifications.

各州應該用這些資金來支持嬰幼兒保育,因為對嬰幼兒而言,保育費用最高,也最難找到。各州還可以利用資金幫助培訓和留住高質量教師,包括提供與其教育資格相匹配的薪酬。

But this is just a down payment in what needs to be a sustained, substantial effort. Parents and their employers lose out when kids attend low-quality, unreliable child care. When child care breaks down, parents can’t work. A recent report from Louisiana estimates that the state’s economy loses $1.1 billion a year due to child care issues.

但這只是一筆預付款,需要持續、大量的努力。當孩子接受低質量、不可靠的托兒服務時,父母和雇主就會蒙受損失。當兒童保育系統崩潰時,父母就不能工作了。路易斯安那州最近的一份報告估計,由于兒童保育問題,該州經濟每年損失11億美元。



As elected officials debate potential investments in infrastructure, child care should be seen as an essential part of the equation. Just like transportation, workers need child care to get to work. Employers and the public have vested interests in ensuring that the workers and taxpayers of tomorrow receive high-quality early care and education today.

當民選官員討論基礎設施方面的潛在投資時,兒童保育應被視為平衡中不可或缺的一部分。就像交通一樣,工人們需要兒童保育才能上班。確保未來的工人和納稅人今天得到高質量的早期保育和教育,這符合雇主和公眾的既得利益。