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Why parents need the flexibility of cash payments more than universal child care

Mar 04, 2021

Imagine a family policy that increased toddlers’ “anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity,” later made school-age children more likely to act up and less satisfied with life, and was ultimately linked to a “sharp … increase in criminal behavior.”

Would you be all in for such a policy? Probably not.

This was not the intent of policymakers in Quebec when they pushed through a universal child care program in 1997. In fact, their intent was to ensure a “healthy start” for all children by making low-cost child care available to all parents, while simultaneously boosting the financial fortunes of families by putting both parents back in the workforce as quickly as possible.

The bottom line: Poor and working-class families are more likely to prioritize the parental freedom of cash more than child care, whereas the educated and affluent are more likely to value child care, according to the Home Building Survey by American Compass.

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