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We want choices, not universal child care

President Joe Biden’s $1.8-trillion American Families Plan is about half right. We support the half of the plan that lets families choose how to best care for their own kids — and gives parents more opportunities to spend time with their young children.

That’s why we welcome the administration’s efforts to spend $450 billion on an expanded child tax credit and $225 billion on paid parental leave. These measures are authentically pro-family, as they give families the ability to choose the best work/family option for them and their kids.

But other elements of the plan undercut choice and end up privileging just one type of family — families with two parents in the workforce who prefer to rely on institutional child care. Biden is seeking universal pre-K, to the tune of $200 billion, and another $225 billion to expand federal funding of child care, a push that would exclude the roughly 60,000 West Virginia mothers who aren’t working or looking for a job.

This plan from the administration to pour billions more into child care comes after Congress already passed $40 billion for child care with the American Rescue Plan, including $100 million to expand child care assistance and $160 million in funds for child care providers in West Virginia alone.

Instead of supporting measures that don’t benefit all West Virginia families, Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin and Republicans like Sen. Shelley Capito should think about ways to meaningfully strengthen all families, the backbone of a strong society. And instead of steering billions to efforts to reward just one model of doing work and family — where both parents of young children work outside the home — leaders like Manchin and Capito should instead let parents choose the best work/family option for them and their kids.

In survey after survey, parents say they wish they had more flexibility in their careers.

Read more at Charleston Gazette

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