The US Presidential Election and Early Childhood Education

The recent presidential election gave the country two very different options for leadership of the country. Both candidates have addressed questions about the US education system, but what does the recent race mean for the early childhood education system in particular? Today we reflect on some of the promises made by both candidates, and think about how we can expect President-elect Trump to be thinking about early childhood education issues going forward.

The participation of women in the workforce has grown from 47% in 1975 to 70% today, as has the cost of childcare, growing 25% in the last decade. The majority of American households are spending more than 10% of their annual household income on childcare. With the bills piling up and wages stagnating it’s no surprise that families struggle to cope with the burden of early care costs that, in most states, surpass that of college tuition.

Leading up to the election we heard from both candidates on how they planned to affect change in the childcare domain. While their approaches differ, they align in their recognition of a need to help new mothers and provide care that is more affordable and accessible to American families. In doing a quick comparison of how our two candidates planned to alleviate these financial burdens on young families, we can take stock of what’s in store for America’s childcare system.

Name Trump Clinton
Maternity Leave
  • Plans to provide 6 weeks of paid maternity to new mothers
  • Plans to provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave
Taxes and Funding
  • Plans to exclude childcare costs from income tax from birth to age 13
  • Plans to make available tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts
  • Plans to give families the option and availability to access family- and community-based childcare solutions by reducing regulations and opening up the marketplace
  • Plans to significantly increase federal government investment into childcare subsidies and provide tax relief
  • Plans to double investments in Early Head Start programs and supporting childcare workers in order to improve the quality of childcare
  • Plans to incentivize employers to provide workplace-based childcare by making the existing tax credit for these facilities more effective
  • Plans to give families opportunities to choose what type of childcare is best for them, including family- and community-based programs
  • Plans to universalize preschool for every 4-year-old in America
  • Plans to increase childcare on college campuses and award scholarships to support the more than 25% of college students balancing school with raising a child

With the election behind us, we can now focus on Trump’s overall goals for childcare: helping families with the costs, empowering them to choose the care that’s right for them, and ensuring access to options in family-, community-, and workplace-based solutions. There are a number of variables that make it difficult to assess which plan will save American families more money. Household income, the number of children in each family, their age, and parent employment status all play a factor. What we do know is that the rising cost of childcare and accessibility to families is an ever- growing concern. Closing the gap between the haves and the have-nots is crucial in ensuring that children and families are coming out of these critical early years on the right foot.

Ron Spreeuwenberg

Ron is the Co-Founder & CEO of HiMama, where he leads all aspects of a social purpose business that helps early childhood educators improve learning outcomes for children.