The Build Back Better Act Can Level the Field for Single Parents

There is much to cheer about the $ 400 billion transformative investment of the Build Back Better Act in early care and education. The law would bring significant relief to millions of families by introducing universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, capping childcare costs for working and middle-class families to 7 percent of household income, and the wages of a workforce dominated by black women who currently paid an average of $ 12 per hour.

But the Build Back Better Act also has the potential, if passed, to represent something else: a political victory over a regressive family ideology that has long been used to block public investment that would benefit the vast majority of families. In the final months of the debate over what would remain in the bill, Conservatives have tried mightily to revive the tired rhetoric of “family values” on which they had relied for decades. This time they claimed that the childcare provisions of the law privileged families with two earners via so-called “traditional” Families with stay-at-home mothers. Ohio Republican Senate candidate JD Vance went even further. tweet that childcare is a “war against normal people”.

Such concerns may seem pitifully insignificant at a time when a significant segment of the population is unlikely to have heard of anything Leave it to Biber. Today, 26 percent of the children live with a single parent, usually a mother. and new research It is estimated that about 70 percent of US mothers, whether married or single, will serve as the main financier for at least a year before their children turn 18.

But there is a reason why conservatives are in arms about this historic investment in childcare. While two-parent nuclear families will not be harmed by the legislation (many would benefit from it), more affordable and accessible childcare will reduce the penalties that have long been imposed on single-parent families. Despite conservative rhetoric about blaming single mothers for their decision-making, sociologist David Brady and his colleagues have documented that it is an interlocking set of policy choices that result in “single mother families in the United States being 14.3 percent more likely than other families to be poor”. And such punishments have been essential to the Conservatives’ long-held illusion of a “traditional” nuclear family – and to the broader political and economic agenda that has made it possible.

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