At a recent event for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, a member of the women’s policy organization Make It Work asked him about his thoughts on child care.
“I love children,” he responded. After her follow up, he continued, “It’s a big subject darling.” He then pivoted to address the rest of the crowd, saying in a derisive tone, “She wants to know my thoughts on child care. Come on, we’ll talk for about 10 hours.”
It’s not the first time Trump has been faced with questions on the issue. At a town hall event in Iowa last month, a woman in the audience asked him what he would do to increase access to affordable child care. His answer focused on private companies providing it on-site, rather than any government intervention.
“It’s not expensive for a company to do it,” he said. “You need one person or two people, and you need some blocks and you need some swings and some toys… I do it all over, and I get great people because of it… It’s something that can be done, I think, very easily by a company.”
If it’s so easy and low-cost, though, few American employers have caught on. Only 7 percent provide care at or near the workplace — a share that has actually declined since 2008. Thanks to safety and health regulations, it costs far more than buying some toys and hiring a couple of workers to set up a daycare.
Rather than on-site care, employers are far more likely to offer their employees plans that allow them to use pre-tax earnings to pay for it on their own. Meanwhile, the government offers subsidies to low-income families, but spending on them has reached decade lows and there are enormous waiting lists in many states.
At the same time, child care costs continue to rise and are now more than what the average family spends on rent or food. In 28 states, it even costs more than public college tuition and fees. A family in Massachusetts can expect to pay an average of $17,000 a year for their infant’s care. Average weekly child care expenses rose more than 70 percent between 1985 and 2011.
Make It Work also asked Trump about his thoughts on equal pay and whether he’ll be supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act. “We’re working on it,” he said. “I’ll work with you.”