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Journal Issue: Financing Child Care Volume 6 Number 2 Summer/Fall 1996

Funding Child Rearing: Child Allowance and Parental Leave
James R. Walker

Summary

This article proposes two financing plans to address what the author identifies as the two primary concerns in the child care field: (1) a child allowance for poor and near-poor households to address the child care problems of low-income families, and (2) a program of voluntary parental leave, available to all parents at child birth or adoption, to ensure the adequacy of infant care.

The child allowance plan would cover the first three children in families up to 175% of the poverty level (more than 22 million children) at an annual cost of $45 billion. The author suggests that the allowance could be financed by redirecting funds from existing income support (for example, Aid to Families with Dependent Children), tax credit, and tax deduction programs.

Financing the parental leave program would require new revenues, generated by an employee-paid increase in payroll tax totaling 3.5%. Each employee's contributions would create a parental leave account (PLA). Families could use the funds in these accounts to cover the cost of a one-year leave from work after the birth or adoption of a child. If families did not have enough dollars in their accounts to cover the cost of the leave, the federal government would extend a low-interest loan to them, which they would have to pay back. The amount individuals receive through Social Security would be adjusted upward or downward according to the balances in their parental leave accounts at retirement.

The author suggests that both proposals would help parents balance work and family obligations and protect parental freedom of choice over the care and upbringing of their children.