Skip to main content

What would it cost to transform “the hell of American day care”?

Printer-friendly version
Bartik, Timothy, J.
Publication Date: 
7 May 2013


I want to focus in this blog post on one issue Cohn raises in a follow-up interview with Dylan Mathews of the Washington Post: what would it cost to make quality child care/preschool available to all families who need this assistance from birth to age 5? Cohn says in that interview that "I talked to some experts about what a true universal child-care program would cost. Nobody felt comfortable giving me a solid estimate." I want to provide at least one estimate, and comment on its implications.

To summarize my conclusions: Providing access to quality child care for all birth to age 5 would probably cost around $100 billion annually in additional government funding. This amount of money is affordable and still somewhat less in child care and preschool funding than other leading countries, but would be politically difficult. This increases the importance of doing research on how we might hold down the costs by changes in child care and preschool design that could provide quality services at lower costs. It also increases the importance of policies that would raise the economic position of lower-income families and thereby reduce the need for subsidies. Finally, I think the political cost of comprehensive birth to 5 services for kids increases interest in an incremental approach that would focus on age 4 preschool, which probably has the greatest ratio of benefits to costs.


Entered Date: 
13 May 2013
Premium Drupal Themes by Adaptivethemes