US stingier with child care maternity leave than rest of the world

In many wealthy countries, child care and preschool are considered a mainstay of the educational system. But in the U.S., only about half of all children between the ages of 3 and 6 are getting publicly supported child care of any kind, including kindergarten, versus 99 percent of kids that age in France.

Interestingly, high-quality early childhood education programs are associated with many excellent outcomes for children from lower-income families: higher graduation rates, along with lower rates of teen pregnancy and juvenile crime.

In other words, when governments invest in child care and maternity leave, it fosters a more productive, healthy and creative workforce.

Commentary by Joya Misra, a Professor of Sociology & Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is also a contributor at The Conversation, an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community.

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