Another Look at Childcare Subsidy

Many states are cutting childcare subsidy services. The latest to consider substantial reductions is Missouri.

Many people today lump childcare subsidies in with all other “entitlement benefits,” not recognizing that there are many positive factors. Childcare has been proven to be an important benefit that helps people move out of poverty.

When childcare benefits are cut for the poorest single mothers who are holding on to a job, they frequently end up giving up the job to stay home and take care of their children – what other choice do they have? The money they can make often simply is less than the cost of childcare without subsidy.

Critics often decry the conditions, blame the mothers for having the children in the first place when they can’t afford them, ask for where the fathers are, state that they don’t believe the public should be  responsible, the list goes on.

None of those criticisms make any difference for that single mother today. She’s in the situation she is in, and she has to quit her job and — sigh — end up on welfare simply to eat and not become homeless. The public money is being spent anyway, yet, now the mother is not working and contributing to society productively.

Childcare subsidies are proven to make a difference for many, many reasons:

  • Children in quality care in their early years have much better success in school later
  • Adults that received quality childcare and good elementary education as children are less likely to end up in prison
  • Parents are working while children are cared for under the terms of the subsidy programs
  • Parents are working more effectively since they are not worried about their children
  • Children in care create jobs for childcare providers, teachers and teacher’s aids.

It should be a society’s primary responsibility and objective to educate its young to the fullest extent possible. That starts at birth. The first five years are the most important years in a person’s development. We as a society should be interested that our children, all of our children, have the best start we can possibly give them.

This, in my opinion, ranks ahead of shooting missiles into countries like Libya or sending soldiers into Afghanistan. A single Tomahawk missile costs $1.45 million. The cheapest version costs $575,000 each. The cuts in Missouri are described as:

The Senate Appropriations Committee cut about $7 million of existing federal and state funding for child-care services, eliminated $5 million of the requested increase in state funds and also cut about $13 million that had been used for grants to child-care providers and other things besides direct subsidies for children.

On March 19, 2011, we lobbed 112 missiles into Libya. At a cost of $575,000 per missile (probably more since they are the modern version), this cost us $64.4 million for the missiles alone. You can do the math and figure out how many years of childcare subsidies could have been saved in Missouri alone.

The worth of a society is established by the things it values. I question the priorities of our society that apparently values death and destruction in a despotic desert nation in Africa above the education of its children and the security of the poorest of the poor in its own heartland.

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