RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Under the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better (BBB) proposal, preschool would be free for every three and four-year-old in the U.S. According to NC Child, only about 40% of children in North Carolina are in preschool or childcare settings.
“Sometimes it’s $12,000-15,000 a year,” said Elizabeth Byrum, a policy advocate at NC Child. “That’s sometimes more than a college tuition and that’s really a large expense because it costs a lot to provide high-quality care.”
She added, “Right now, we know North Carolina families sometimes are paying two mortgages; one for their home and one for childcare costs. Doing this allows them to have a limit on how much they pay each month and that’s really exciting because we know a lot of families have not been able to access care because of the cost.”
The proposal would also cap childcare costs for families that make less than $300,000. Families wouldn’t pay more than 7% of their income for childcare.
“For that parent, who may today have to choose between whether or not they can afford child care or if they want to go back to school, or enter the workforce because the cost of childcare is so prohibitive, they no longer have to make that choice,” said Gayle E. Headen, executive director of Wake County Smart Start.
According to the BBB proposal, “$1 invested in early childcare yields $3-7 over the long run. Research has shown children who attend preschool are more likely to succeed in school, graduate high school and college, and earn more money as adults.”
Kimberly Shaw owns and operates A Safe Place Child Enrichment Center in Raleigh. Shaw tells CBS17 she answers calls from parents every day asking about the cost or payment plans.
“In the past, they would also ask about the quality of our program, but the first thing they ask is ‘how much does it cost?” Shaw said is their main concern.
She added, “The earlier that we can provide the education, nurturing and the structure that children need to thrive, that’s the best that we can do like America.”
The BBB proposal also includes major investments in combating climate change, expanding affordable health care, housing, and other issues.
The proposal still needs to be passed by Congress.