US child care policies lag behind most of developed countries: report

A woman and a child are seen at Lincoln Park Zoo surrounded by the fall colors in downtown Chicago, on Nov 2, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

NEW YORK — The US society claims to love children, admire parents and revere the family, but its public policies send the opposite message, as can be seen from a June 2021 UNICEF report which found the country ranked 40th on child care among the world’s rich countries, reported The Washington Post on Sunday.

“It’s hard to think of work more important to a society’s long-term well-being and prosperity than raising children. Yet the market economy values work outside the home that produces goods, services and profits far more than the work of parenting,” said the report titled “We say we love kids and families. Our policies prove the opposite.”

Unlike other well-off countries, the United States has “never adapted to the needs of families in today’s labor market and economy,” Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, was quoted as saying. “We’ve never responded to so many women with young children being in the workforce.”

US families with modest incomes face particular problem in child care. “Parents are paying as much as a mortgage or car payments — or college tuition — each month for child care,” US Senator Patty Murray, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was quoted as saying.

The UNICEF study also found the United States near the top among nations in child-care costs relative to the average wage, said the report, noting that child care is often cast as a “women’s issue,” but it should also be seen as a family issue and an economic issue.

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