Parenting today is unaffordable. Wages have stagnated and even declined amidst housing cost explosions, child care un-affordability, and inflation. Social programs to support families are constantly inhibited by strings and catches that make it hard for working and middle class families to access the programs that they might need like Head Start. Even the programs that families can count on to give them help are annually appropriated by state funding and are not guaranteed. The typical middle class parent spends up to a third of their income on child care and some families spend half of their income on rent. That leaves very little left over and many middle class families in the lurch. Couple all that with welfare, Social Security, and other public assistance reform heralded by former President Bill Clinton in the ’90s and many families are left out in the cold, unable to access assistance or social programs that might benefit them greatly.
While much has been suggested in the way of putting new economic policies in place in the future — Elizabeth Warren’s Child Care plan, Cory Booker’s Baby Bonds program, overtime protections, paid family leave or a jobs guarantee — not much has been said about programs in place that are actively making it hard to parent. Here, we talked to three giants in the field of economy for families about the flaws in the child support system, how state balanced budget amendments have hamstrung the economy, and why Temporary Assistance for Needy Families has failed to keep up with modern times and modern families.