The Birth to Three for All D.C. bill is misguided, will raise costs of child care services

By – The Washington Times – Monday, March 18, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Working parents, including those who work from home, often depend on child care services that operate outside the home.

Parents who do not work often use child care services that operate outside the home.

Taxpayers — local, state and federal taxpayers — subsidize both family scenarios and should brace themselves: The costs of servicing child care services could rise sooner than you think.

With Republicans and Democrats pushing for “high-quality” child care programs, the costs are an automatic given. For one, new regulations come into play, and with new regulations come new bureaucratic regulators on the local, state and federal levels.

That’s surely going to happen in the District, where Mayor Muriel Bowser is, as you read this, considering to “fully fund” the Birth to Three for All D.C. bill, which the D.C. Council unanimously passed last year. Advocates want the mayor’s budget to include at least $30 million for the program.

There’s an overarching reason taxpayers should be on the lookout. Congress and the White House also have ideas on servicing child care.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in fact, wants what you could call “Universal Child Care for All,” a proposal that not only calls for Uncle Sam to take greater responsibility for your little ones but also would establish a radical finance obligation that would cap a family’s child care spending at 7 percent — regardless of the number of children.

No doubt hers is an enticing proposal, and may even put a noticeable dent in the abortion industry. However, the cap, regardless of the income percentage, only means another sure bet: Meeting the demand means child care providers are going to raise their costs.

For one, the federal government and some states are considering raising, or already have raised, the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The possibility is in play on Capitol Hill, where the House Education and Labor Committee has given its nod to the Raise the Wage Act.

This proposed 106 percent increase in the federal minimum wage has made skeptics of Democrats and Republicans, given its potential to drastically increase labor costs for small businesses. One business group already has felt the negative effects of a $15 minimum wage in Seattle: child care centers.

Read Rick Berman’s op-ed in Tuesday’s Washington Times, “Another Casualty of a $15 minimum wage,” to get a complete picture of what’s at stake. He writes: “In a recent study, economists from the University of Washington analyzed how Seattle’s $15 minimum wage increase, which began in 2014, has impacted child care workers’ overall compensation and how child care centers were responding to rising labor costs. Their findings, published in the Social Work and Society Journal, show that child care centers were forced to increase tuition costs, reduce expenses, slash staff hours and cut staff benefits or professional development investments.”

Why professional development investments? Well, D.C. officials want day care employees to have college degrees.

Imagine the increases for, say, Birth to Three for All D.C. if college degrees for child care workers are mandated. The current average annual cost of D.C. child care services is $23,000. And with the city trying to establish a bigger government footprint, the costs are going to up and taxpayers will have to foot the bill.

That’s hardly surprising, as Miss Bowser and her political minions love the Look What Your Government Is Doing For You Today ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

The bottom line is this: Instead of cutting ribbons on new day care centers, one of politicians’ favorite photo ops, Miss Bowser, Ms. Warren and other elected leaders should grab a pair a shears and cut taxes.

Explain to local, state and federal taxpayers how tax cuts would leave more of their own money in their own pockets. Money they could use for child care, if they so choose.

Humph. Do you think Ms. Warren would take her college-degreed self to work in your neighborhood day care center?

Deborah Simmons can be ed at

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