Back to Next Generation

With cuts to Head Start, the price of child care is starting to feel like a penalty on families


EXPENDITURES ON A CHILD FROM BIRTH THROUGH AGE 17-1960 VERSUS 2012.  Source: Expenditures on Children by Families 2012 - U.S. Department of Agriculture.  August 2013.  







The U.S.D.A reports the cost of child care has jumped 18% since 1960.  Quality child care is no longer a towering expense for only low-income families. Across the economic spectrum, families scramble to cover the cost of having someone watch their kids. Recently, Christine Quinn, a candidate for Mayor of New York, unveiled a pilot program for subsidized child care targeted specifically to middle-class families. Under her proposal, parents with kids ages 2 to 4 will be able to receive loans of up to $11,000 at 6% interest to pay for child care. Describing the public’s reaction to Quinn’s proposal as ‘incensed’ would be a gross understatement.

A new poll on working mothers from Pew finds 47% of mothers would prefer to work part-time.  A hotly discussed article claims the high cost and scarcity of quality child care gobbles up most, if not all, of a family’s disposable income and is compelling women to quit their jobs—exacerbating “the motherhood penalty.”  To consider whether the high cost of child care imposes a penalty on real families, read this.

America’s kids are days away from the beginning of a new school year.  Bloomberg reports most states are still spending less on each public school student than they did before the recession. A bevy of recently released polls reveal Americans’ attitudes about public education are all over the map on issues as diverse as the importance of preschool, the impact of standardized testing on student performance and familiarity with the Common Core Standards.

Bill Keller addresses the politicization of the Common Core Standards, a K-12 curriculum endorsed by 45 states. Charles Blow discusses why the Common Core is important to educational reform. Two additional, strong expressions of opinion encapsulate the divergent sides of the debate swirling around the Common Core’s implementation. Jeb Bush authors an essay enthusiastically supporting the new curriculum. Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, a non-supporter, explains why the new curriculum "will succeed—even if it doesn’t."

The states are preparing for another round of across-the-board federal spending cuts mandated by the Sequester. Preliminary estimates reveal the reduction in domestic federal spending to be $4.2 billion. Head Start is expected to lose $400 million, the deepest spending reduction since the program was created. This translates into 57,000 eliminated slots—51,000 for preschoolers and 6,000 fewer child care openings for babies. For an in-depth look at how specific states are coping with reductions in federal funding for Head Start, read this

Sacramento anticipates 5,600 low-income California kids will be shut out of Head Start because of the Sequester. While part of the shortfall will be offset by $25 million the Legislature squirreled-away for preschool programs, the federal government typically spends up to $10,000 per child enrolled in Head Start, while state programs only allocate about $3,000.

The California Legislature has until September 13 to send all bills to Governor Brown, who has until October 13 to sign them into law. Dan Walters thinks a controversy over the LCFF money is brewing. He reports SB 344, a bill attempting to fine-tune the spending procedures of the LCFF, has garnered new interest. A story on the high expectations surrounding the LCFF can be found here. A new Field Poll on the ACA presents an interesting snapshot of how Californians view the new healthcare law. Only half of the Californians who qualify for food stamps receive them. The LA Times contends it’s because California discourages eligible families from applying for the aid through the use of excessive red tape specifically designed to intimidate.

According to the annual  C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, White and Hispanic parents believe obesity poses the greatest risk to their children’s health, while African-Americans consider smoking to cause the greatest harm. And, a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics finds drinking more sugar-sweetened sodas increases aggression, withdrawal and attention problems in 5-year-olds. It’s the first study to establish a link between sugary drinks and behavior problems in children so young.  Researchers suspect caffeine to be the primary chemical cause of the harmful effects. 



"This is a window of opportunity where we are literally laying down the brain structure.”  Executive Director of the California Head Start Association, Rick Mockler, bemoaning the federal cutbacks in the Head Start program

"The government doesn't realize what it's doing to the lower income.  They're taking away what we don't have.  We barely have it and they're taking away. It hurts."  Rachell Ruiz, 40, of Colorado Springs, expressing her fear that her 2-year old would lose out on attending Head Start because of federal spending cuts. 

Our entire disposable income goes to child care.  It’s not a tragic story, but is tiring and tiresome.  I have a career, I work really hard, and yet I get no break.”  Professor Carla Bellamy, who teaches at Baruch College, commenting on the high cost of child care. 

“RUN.  RUN FAST from this ‘gracious benefit!’”  Citizen Jack Broyles, Jr. commenting on Christine Quinn’s proposed loan to pay for child care. 



REPORT.  Whose Minding the Kids?  Child Care Arrangements Spring 2011.  U.S. Census. 

REPORT.  Expenditures on Children by Families, 2012.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture.  August 2013. 

The impact of child care costs 

Loans for day care issued to New York City parents 

Mothers and work: What’s ‘ideal’? 

What is the “Motherhood Penalty” 

Crushed by the Cost of Child Care 



Most state public school funding still lower than before recession 

Polls show mixed report card for education reforms 

The 2013 Education Next Survey 

Highlights of the 2013 PDK/Gallup Poll:  What Americans Said About the Public Schools. August 2013. 

Parents’ Attitudes on the Quality of Education in the United States. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. 



War on the Core 

The Common Core and the Common Good 

The Common Core State Standard Initiative 

American’s Poll of Americans' views on education shows little awareness of new standards, wariness of tests 

Toward a Better Education System

How Common Core Standards will succeed — even if they don’t 



States Brace for New Round of Sequester Cuts 

Preschool for 57,000 Poor Children Cut in U.S. Budget Reductions  Head Start eliminated services to 57,000 children in U.S. as a result of sequester 

Sequestration slashes Head Start funding 



White House warns of Head Start cuts in California 

SB 344 The California PTA switched from Support to Watch status 

Big school money row surfaces again in California 

California Upends School Funding To Give Poor Kids A Boost 

Field Poll shows continued support for health care overhaul in California 

California discourages needy from signing up for food stamps 



POLL.  Top Child Health Concerns of Adults.  August 19, 2013.  C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. 

Soft Drinks and Behavioral Problems in Young Children 

Soda Contributes to Behavior Problems Among Young Children 

Soda linked to behavioral problems in young children, study says  

Join the Conversation