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How Cities and Counties Are Taking the Lead on Child Care

Absent federal action, local jurisdictions are increasingly looking for ways to help working parents.
Saryah Mitchell, 4, sits with her mother, Teisa, left, at a rally calling for increased child care subsidies in Sacramento on May 6, 2015.
Saryah Mitchell, 4, sits with her mother, Teisa, left, at a rally calling for increased child care subsidies in Sacramento on May 6, 2015.AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

America is waking up to child care as a major political issue. Back in January, President Obama discussed it at length for the first time in his State of the Union address. “In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever,” the president said, as parents around the country cheered (or shouted “Finally!” in exasperation).

Our child-care problem is really a cluster of them. First, there is the cost. On average, according to a 2014 report by Child Care Aware, parents of an infant in Massachusetts spend a shocking $16,549 per year for child care—that's 53 percent more than public-college tuition. And Massachusetts is not an outlier: In his speech, Obama talked about a Minnesota family who spend more on child care than on their mortgage, which is not that uncommon.