Bernie Sanders Proposes Universal Free Child Care, Paid For Via A ‘Wealth Tax’

'Other countries around the world understand the importance of child care, early education, and family leave. It is long past time for the United States to join them,' Sanders said.

a baby at a bernie sanders rally
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'Other countries around the world understand the importance of child care, early education, and family leave. It is long past time for the United States to join them,' Sanders said.

Bernie Sanders has revealed a comprehensive plan for free, universal child care, to be paid for via a “wealth tax,” HuffPost reports. The plan essentially treats pre-K and child care like an extension of the public education system.

On Monday, the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful released his plan on his website. Sanders opens by noting that the United States, unlike many developed nations, lacks a comprehensive plan for guaranteed, subsidized childcare, as well as mandated paid family leave.

“Other countries around the world understand the importance of child care, early education, and family leave. It is long past time for the United States to join them,” the website reads.

With an expected price tag of $1.5 trillion over 10 years, the plan is intended to make quality child care accessible and affordable to every parent in America. This is in contrast to the current system, in which child care in some areas is so expensive that the cost exceeds that of going to college. In other parts of the country, children aren’t able to attend pre-K because their public school system doesn’t offer it.

Care For Infants And Toddlers

The plan begins with six months of paid family leave for new parents, as well as paid sick time and paid vacation time; the latter two things being something that many employers, particularly employers of low-wage and unskilled workers, don’t provide.

AUSTIN, TX - FEBRUARY 23: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a campaign rally at Vic Mathias Shores Park on February 23, 2020 in Austin, Texas. With early voting underway in Texas, Sanders is holding four rallies in the delegate-rich state this weekend before traveling on to South Carolina. Texas holds their primary on Super Tuesday March 3rd, along with over a dozen other states. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
  Drew Angerer / Getty Images

In order to make care for children — after the parents have returned to work — more accessible and affordable, the plan also includes financing for expanding existing child-care options, such as through small, independent providers, or through larger organizations, like the YMCA.

Universal Pre-K

In most places throughout the country where pre-K — one or two years of pre-kindergarten education — is offered, it’s treated basically as an extension of the public school system. Sanders’ plan builds on that.

For starters, his plan includes expanding pre-K in the most literal possible sense, by providing funding to expand existing facilities and to build new ones.

Further, the plan includes language that would raise the wages workers at those facilities earn, making jobs in child care more attractive for skilled providers.

How Sanders’ Plan Is Different From Other Democrats’ Plans

Sanders‘ competitors have also offered up child care plans, although his opponents’ plans are different in scope and execution. Elizabeth Warren, for example, also has a child care plan, but unlike Sanders’, not everyone would qualify for free or low-cost child care. Instead her plan is only available to people at or below a certain income level. Pete Buttigieg has a similar plan, although fees are determined by a sliding scale based on the parents’ income.