EE.UU: The Cost of Child Care in America Is Even More Outrageous Than You Thought

América del Norte/EE.UU./07 de octubre de 2016/www.slate.com/Por: Ruth Graham

Resumen: El tema del costo del cuidado infantil se ha convertido en tema de conversación favorito en la campaña electoral de los candidatos de EE.UU. Hilary, por ejemplo, propone la limitación de los gastos de cuidado de niños en el 10 por ciento de los ingresos de una familia, por su parte, Donald Trump, ha expresado que permitiría a los padres deducir el costo del cuidado infantil de sus impuestos sobre la renta, excluyendo de este modo a las familias de bajos ingresos que más necesitan del cuidado de niños. Sin embargo, hoy en día, un nuevo informe conjunto del grupo de expertos New America y Care.com ilustra porqué el costo del cuidado de niños en Estados Unidos es indignante. El coste medio de la inscripción a tiempo completo de un niño de 4 años o menos en un centro de cuidado de niños en Estados Unidos es $ 9,589 al año, lo que es más alto que el costo promedio de la matrícula universitaria estatal. Una familia que gana el ingreso medio por hogar gastaría el 18 por ciento de la misma en el cuidado de niños. Para un solo padre ganando el salario mínimo, llevar a su hijo a un cuidado de niños sería comer hasta 64 por ciento de sus ingresos. Por supuesto, los EE.UU. sigue siendo el único país industrializado que no requiere a los patronos proveer siquiera un solo día de licencia de paternidad remunerada, y la Familia y los mandatos de la Ley de Licencia Médica sólo otorgan 12 semanas de licencia sin sueldo para las madres después del parto. Eso significa que muchos padres que trabajan tienen que poner a sus hijos en algún tipo de centro de atención en cuestión de semanas. Y los costos de la atención infantil son 12 por ciento más alto que para los niños mayores, de acuerdo con el nuevo informe. Mientras tanto, sólo el 11 por ciento de los centros de cuidado infantil y centros de atención en el hogar están acreditados, una medida de seguridad básica y tanto la calidad educativa en lo que se entiende cada vez más como un período de desarrollo crucial. Mientras tanto, los trabajadores de cuidado de niños mismos se les paga salarios de pobreza. A nivel nacional, los salarios medios son menos de la mitad de la media de los maestros de preescolar, de acuerdo con un informe publicado en julio de este año por el Centro para el Estudio de Empleo de cuidado de niños.

Noticia original:

One of the stranger policy twists in this very strange election season is that the high cost of child care has become a favorite talking point for both the Democratic and Republican nominees for president. Hillary Clinton proposes capping child care expenses at 10 percent of a family’s income. And Donald Trump has said he would allow parents to deduct the cost of child care from their income taxes—thereby excluding the low-income families who most need help, but never mind. Forty-five years after President Nixon vetoed a universal child care plan because of its “family-weakening implications,” today both major-party nominees see child care costs as a problem that benefits them to address.

Today, a New Joint Report from the think tank New America and Care.com illustrates why. In short, the cost of child care in America is outrageous. The average cost of enrolling a child age 4 or younger full-time at a child care center in America is $9,589 a year, which is higher than the average cost of in-state college tuition. A family earning the median household income would spend 18 percent of it on child care. For a single parent earning minimum wage, child care would eat up 64 percent of her income. And that’s for one child. For perspective, child care is considered affordable if it doesn’t exceed 10 percent of a family’s income, according to standards from the Department of Health and Human Services. Not only are current costs way beyond that for many parents, but they have risen at nearly twice the rate of inflation since the end of the recession.

Of course, the U.S. remains the only industrialized country that does not require employers to provide even a single day of paid parental leave, and the Family and Medical Leave Act mandates just 12 weeks of unpaid leave for mothers after childbirth. That means many working parents need to place their children in some kind of care setting within weeks. And the costs for infant care are 12 percent higher than they are for older children, according to the new report. Meanwhile, only 11 percent of child-care centers and home-based care settings are accredited, a measure of both basic safety and educational quality in what is increasingly understood to be a crucial developmental period.

The report addresses quality and availability of care along with cost. All vary widely in what the report describes as the country’s “fragmented, patchwork system.” With expenses so high and availability so spotty, many families decide to rely instead on the “gray market” of unregulated options: care provided by family, friends, or neighbors, which is often unreliable and even unsafe. In other cases, women (yes, usually women) cut back on their hours or simply opt to stay home with their children, making the reasonable calculation that it makes little financial sense to work if your income is effectively being funneled into the child care that you need because you’re going to work.

Meanwhile, child care workers themselves are often paid poverty wages. Nationally, their median wages are less than half of the average for kindergarten teachers, according to a report released in July by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. In 2015, almost half of early childhood workers in the U.S. relied on public assistance. When it comes to child care in America, parents, children, and providers are somehow all getting the short end of the stick. The “family-weakening implications” of our current broken system deserve attention during this presidential election—and afterward.

Tomado de: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/09/28/cost_of_child_care_in_america_still_outrageous_yet_somehow_more_so.html

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