White House And Ivanka Trump Propose New Spending On Child Care The president's budget is expected to propose drastic cuts to government programs. But NPR has learned it will also call for increased spending on child care, something Ivanka Trump has championed.
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Exclusive: White House And Ivanka Trump Propose New Spending On Child Care

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Exclusive: White House And Ivanka Trump Propose New Spending On Child Care

Exclusive: White House And Ivanka Trump Propose New Spending On Child Care

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Back to this country now - the federal budget President Trump proposes today includes a line for child care. The proposal to increase funding is a priority of the president's daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump. Here's NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

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IVANKA TRUMP: How's everyone doing?

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Great.

TRUMP: Good. Well, thank you all for being here.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: On a recent afternoon, Ivanka Trump led a discussion in the White House with more than a dozen people who specialize in child care.

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TRUMP: As we think about how to address an ever-growing challenge in this country, which is access to safe, affordable child care for...

KEITH: NPR was invited to the listening session and given early details of a child care proposal from a Ivanka Trump included in the president's 2020 budget. The centerpiece is a one-time investment of $1 billion to increase the supply of child care. States would apply for funding and could use it to encourage employers, large and small, to invest in child care or to support child care providers that operate during nontraditional work hours. To get the money, states would have to cut regulations that limit supply or increase cost.

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TRUMP: We are doing a lot. But it's not perfect still.

KEITH: Here are some of the challenges that Trump and the experts she met with identified in that White House meeting. The early years are critical for brain development, but quality, safe, affordable child care is often hard to come by. There are mile-long waitlists for care that, for many families, costs more than their housing. And yet, a lot of child care workers can't make ends meet. Trump described it as a market failure.

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TRUMP: The system's just broken. And we're trying to intervene and fix it in every way we can.

KEITH: As Trump talked about the challenges, she framed it in a way Democrats have for years - not as a mom's problem or a family's problem but as an impediment to economic growth.

Chad Dunkley is CEO of New Horizon Academy, a child care provider. He attended the listening session and has advocated for more child care funding on Capitol Hill.

CHAD DUNKLEY: I think there's a growing bipartisan consensus that we have to do more to build the financial security of young families in this country. They have to feel confident they can grow their families here. And if they don't, our economy is going to be in trouble.

KEITH: He says you can already see the strain in low birth rates and stalled labor force participation. Presidential budget proposals are policy statements frequently ignored by Congress. So in a way, this is Ivanka Trump and the White House signaling they want to be part of a larger conversation that's happening in the business world and in politics. The new White House proposal comes as child care is already a 2020 campaign issue, with Democratic candidates - including Elizabeth Warren - rolling out child-care-for-all plans.

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ELIZABETH WARREN: That's why, for millions of families who need it, access to these child care options will be free.

KEITH: And in Congress, there are multiple child care bills from Democrats. The price tag on these plans runs tens of billions of dollars each year, vastly more than the White House proposal. A White House official described the Democratic plans as unsustainably expensive and said Ivanka Trump sees her role as an advocate for producing legislation that actually has a viable path forward. Senator Patty Murray from Washington state, a leading Democrat on this issue, was polite when asked if she could work with Ivanka Trump on this.

PATTY MURRAY: If it's real and it isn't just a Band-Aid and it actually does provide real child care for folks who need it.

KEITH: There's lots of agreement on the problems. Solutions - not yet.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, the White House.

(SOUNDBITE OF MAN MOUNTAIN'S "TO BE MADE AS NEW")

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