There is a new wrinkle in the old argument about federally-funded universal child care. According to the National Association for Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies one in five (23 percent) women is delaying pregnancy or has decided against having a second or third child because she cannot afford day care costs. Even middle-class women, they claim, are struggling to afford child care while the mother works during the day.
When polls cite "agonizing decisions" middle-class parents have to make and the "stark reality" that parents face, they don't mention the families who choose a boat, second car, larger house, big-screen television, expensive vacation or other luxury item instead of paying for quality child care or having the mother take a break from her career to nurture the family's children. Instead, the activists assume that the public ought to pay for an individual family's child care costs so that family, regardless of its income or spending priorities, can use its disposable income on some luxury item. The underlying premise is that no one should ever have to sacrifice in order to do whatever he or she wants to do.
On another front, the left is arguing that day care for poor children is good crime prevention strategy. An organization called "Fight Crime, Invest in Kids" recently released a study reporting that most women (85 percent of those polled) believe that youth violence is curbed by participation in day care programs like Head Start. The "Fight Crime" group warns that parental concerns about youth violence will motivate women during election 2008 and claims that 68 percent of their respondents will take into account a candidate's stance on child care and early childhood education when they go into the voting booths in 2008.
It is worth noting that the "Fight Crime" survey was a telephone interview of only 600 women. Of course, the president of "Fight Crime," David Kass, is calling for more funds for child care in order to cut crime. Such initiatives always advocate greater federal "investment" in child care and cite exorbitant figures for private child care.
Obviously, our jails are filled with young men who are uneducated and lack social skills – they can't read or write and don't know how to resolve conflict except through violence. Obviously many of our young girls have babies because they see no hope for the future and are looking for self-esteem in all the wrong places. We do have to invest in the future by finding ways to reach children who are at risk, but pouring money into corruption-ridden programs like federally-funded day care and the Head Start program is certainly counterproductive.