- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2003

A “universal” child tax credit and a “parental bill of rights” are just two innovative ways to assist families with child care, say authors in the latest issue of a quarterly published by the Family Research Council.

The new Family Policy Review focuses on child care because it’s important socially and politically, said editor Brian Robertson.

To date, most of the child care discussions have been about “more of the same” — such as how to expand subsidies to commercial day care, he said.

“We think there are many other ways of approaching the issue that would allow parents more choices and be more reflective of the interests of children and the wishes of parents on this issue,” said Mr. Robertson, author of “Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us.”

What most parents want are policies that help them stay home with their children, wrote Heidi L. Brennan, a leader of Family and Home Network, a nonprofit group that supports at-home parents.

The Institute for American Values recently released a study that found human beings are “hard-wired” from birth to need enduring, nurturing relationships and to seek moral and spiritual meaning, Mrs. Brennan said at a recent Family Research Council symposium on child care.

The Institute’s “Hardwired to Connect” study is just the latest to underscore the need for parents to personally nurture their young children, she said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, wrote an article in the latest issue of the quarterly on the “universal child tax credit” legislation she has introduced, which would give $200-a-month tax credits to stay-at-home parents of children under age 6.

Some parents choose to maintain their careers while raising a family, and some parents make a financial sacrifice to put their careers on hold to raise a family, she said. “I firmly believe the tax code should treat both equally.”

In another article, Richard T. Gill proposes a “parental bill of rights,” modeled after the G.I. Bill of Rights from the World War II era.

Under a parental bill of rights, parents — typically mothers — who provide primary care for their young children would “be eligible for the kind of benefits veterans received when they returned home — i.e., tuition, books, subsistence allotment, etc.,” wrote Mr. Gill. The basic purpose of the program would be to promote parental care for children when they are young, he said.

Mr. Robertson said both the universal child tax credit and parental bill of rights are “politically salable” ideas, although they both are likely to come with sizable price tags.

In Congress, the child-care debate has been delayed until next year, with the rest of welfare reform.

The House welfare bill adds $2 billion over five years to the $4.8 billion now being spent each year on child care.

A Senate Finance Committee bill has yet to be taken up on the floor. Some Senate Democrats have indicated they will try to increase child-care spending to $11 billion a year.

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