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Elizabeth Warren Wants Child Care to Be Cheap or Free. What Are Americans Paying Now?

Massachusetts senator and 2020 Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren unveiled her plan for universal child care on Tuesday. "I remember how hard it was to find affordable and high-quality child care when I was a working mom with two little ones," she writes in a post on Medium, noting that finding affordable child care has only become harder since then.

Warren's Universal Child Care and Early Learning plan would "guarantee high-quality child care and early education for every child in America from birth to school age," she writes. Under this plan, the federal government would partner with local child care providers to create a range of new options—including local centers, preschools, and in-home care—held to national standards. Access to these options would be free to families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line, with rates capped at 7 percent of a family's income for families making more than that.

"That's a heck of a lot less than what most families are paying for high-quality child care now," Warren writes.

So what are most families paying now? The most recent government data comes from the United States Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: The Expenditures on Children by Families 2015 report, which was released in 2017, found that child care expenses vary considerably depending on household income level.

The plan would be paid for with revenue from the "wealth tax" plan Warren released last month: a 2 percent tax on those with assets over $50 million, and 3 percent on those with over $1 billion.