Fund DC Child Care Programs
With 20% of Washington, DC’s children born below the poverty line each year, promoting generational wealth growth is imperative to improving the conditions of historically marginalized communities. Baby bond programs are an approach that has gained traction nationwide in part because of a bill that Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.) reintroduced this year for a program at the nationwide. Typically, programs provide for the establishment of interest-bearing accounts for children in eligible households, who will receive annual deposits until the child turns 18. Although the program gives a boost to young adults, the 18-year gap before it is distributed is a critical time that requires financial support. The Baby Bonds program is an important first step towards creating an intergenerational heritage, but it can only reach its full potential if combined with comprehensive child care legislation.
On October 19, the District of Columbia Council voted unanimously in favor of the Child Wealth Building Act, which establishes an account for every child born into a low-income family qualifying as of October 1, 2021. Level families less than or equal to the federal poverty line (an annual income of $ 26,500 for a family of four) will receive an initial deposit of $ 500 with annual deposits of up to $ 1,000. Those earning up to three times the poverty line, or $ 79,500 for a family of four, will also receive the $ 500 deposit, but annual payments reduced by $ 600. These funds can be withdrawn when the child turns 18 for a limited number of expenses, including paying school fees, buying a home, or starting a business.
One of the key functions of family ties is to reduce intergenerational racial disparities in wealth, which have changed little in recent decades. Black and Hispanic families are five times less likely to inherit wealth, and they receive less when they do. Indeed, the ratio of wealth of white families to that of black families was higher in 2016 than at the beginning of the century. A 2018 study found that young white adults own 16 times the wealth of young black adults, but a national baby bond program could reduce that number by a factor of. Thus, the DC program is a promising approach to eliminating long-standing racial divisions among residents.
But preparing a child for success from the age of 18 also means supporting his development throughout childhood. As employees prepare to return to work in person, funding for child care has become one of the most pressing topics on the DC Council’s agenda. Parents simply cannot afford the fees necessary to provide high quality child care. As health and safety regulations for child care centers become more stringent, these costs will only increase. Proactive government measures such as fully funding the 2018 Birth-to-Three for All DC Amending Act, which increases the wages of child care workers and increases the number of families eligible for child care vouchers, are essential steps to ensure that children in underserved communities receive the care they need. Without sufficient programs to help raise a child, young adults will be ill-prepared to use the bond money for their intended purposes, such as paying for a college education or a mortgage.
Many DC residents are well aware of the current gaps in parental support and are eager to see the government act on the issue. I spoke with two families who expressed varying reactions to the new program. Mejdi and his wife have a baby daughter and are well aware of the financial challenges of raising a child. Mejdi was a strong supporter of the policy and the opportunities it would create for young adults. He said that “many families cannot afford to save money for schools.” The bond program would ease a significant burden on parents planning for their child’s future.
Another young couple, who asked to remain anonymous, supported the parent support measures, but also spoke of other ways to strengthen the impact of the policy.
“Child care is the main cost during the early stages of raising a child,” the father said in an interview with The Hoya.
Children need other expenses after child care that cannot be covered by the voucher program. Parents are most in need of financial assistance around the age of 0 to 12.
“By the time they are 18, their future is already defined,” he said.
These two families have one message in common: raising a child is expensive and parents need all the help they can get. Such a vital issue for the DC community requires the attention of all its members, even the students of Georgetown University. Nonprofits such as Jumpstart and Center for Social Justice, research, teaching and service initiatives such as DC Reads, which have on-campus programs, are already involved in providing rewarding educational experiences. to underserved children of DC. I urge the DC Council to take leadership and prioritize child care policies that ensure low income families have the resources to raise a child until they reach adulthood. .
Angela Yu is a freshman at the School of Foreign Service. Neighborhood speech is published every two weeks.