AS IF ANY PROOF WAS NEEDED, a recent study led by University of Chicago Professor James J. Heckman, a Nobel laureate in Economics, finds that children between eight weeks and five years enrolled in high quality child care went on to have more successful lives. This is particularly true of children from economically disadvantaged single parent families and it especially helps boys, who, as several research findings have shown, are more sensitive to disadvantages and react better to early intervention. The Heckman study, reported in the April 22 New York Times, found that men in the experimental group were earning an average of $19,000 a year more than those in a control group who were home with low quality care in their early years.
The United States spends only 0.4 percent of its gross domestic product on child care, the lowest percentage of all industrialized countries. But the Heckman study finds that every dollar spent by the government on early child care eventually yields $7.30 to society in terms of less unemployment, crime, and poor health.
While many professionals in the field of early child care have advocated free public programs for children under five, a counter-proposal by President Trump linking child care expenses to income tax deductions would have very limited effect for low income families. According to a report by New America and Care.com, the average cost of early child care in the United States is $16,500 a year. However, the Tax Policy Center puts the average savings under the Trump proposal for a family earning less than $40,000 at only $20.