Large Majorities Favor Child Care and Nutrition Proposals Being Considered for Reconciliation Budget Plan

Large majorities of American voters favor several proposals for increasing federal support for children that are being considered for the reconciliation budget plan.

More than six-in-ten voters support an increase in federal subsidies for child care. Two-thirds favor making permanent the credits for summer meals for low-income families with children.

In the innovative survey of 2,613 registered voters by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, respondents were given briefings on the proposals and related information, and evaluated arguments for and against each proposal. The content was reviewed in advance by experts for accuracy and balance and to ensure the best arguments were being presented on both sides.

The survey found 63% favor a proposal which subsidizes the costs of child care, so low-income families do not pay anything and middle-income families pay no more than 7% of their income.  This includes 86% of Democrats and 59% of independents, however only 39% of Republicans. The specifics of this proposal were based on the Child Care for Working Families Act (S. 1360, H.R. 2817).

This proposal would substantially reduce costs for families with children, who on average pay 10% of their income on child care. Very low-income families, on average, pay 35% of their income for child care. 

Further analysis was conducted by dividing the sample six ways, depending on the Cook’s Political Report PVI ratings, reflecting the partisan orientation of the respondent’s Congressional district. Majorities were found to favor the proposal for child care subsidies in very Republican (62%) to very Democratic (79%) districts.

The survey also found 66% of voters support making permanent the pandemic-relief policy which provided very low-income families with children up to $130 worth of credits to purchase groceries each month during the summer, including 85% of Democrats and 67% of independents, but only 44% of Republicans.  Two-thirds in very Republican districts and more than three-quarters in very Democratic districts support the proposal.

Respondents were told that these benefits are currently set to expire by the end of the year and that extending them would increase spending by $2.5 billion a year.

“In the wake of the pandemic, Americans appear to be open to greater federal spending for child care and nutrition,” commented Steven Kull, director of PPC.

Looking more closely at Republicans reveals some sharp demographic differences. While less than four-in-ten Republicans favor the proposed increase for child care subsidies, Republican support is higher among 18-34 year-olds (55%), non-whites (57%), women (49%) and those making less than $30,000 (47%).

Similarly, for federal subsidies for summer meals for children from low-income families, overall only 44% of Republicans are in favor, but support is higher among 18-34 year olds (55%), women (50%) and those making less than $30,000 (57%).

The survey was conducted online from July 29 – August 23, 2021 with a probability-based sample of 2,613 registered voters and had a margin of error of +/- 1.9%. The sample was provided by Nielsen Scarborough from its larger sample of respondents, who were recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households.

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