Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a plan on Monday for free universal child care and early education programs.
According to his proposal, all American families would be eligible for "free full-day, full-week, high-quality child care" for children under the age of 3. It also guarantees free pre-K education for children after that. Sanders' campaign estimates it will cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years to implement the programs. It said funding would come via his proposed annual wealth tax of "the top 0.1%" in the country.
The plan would be federally funded, with state governments administering the programs under proposed federal quality standards, like "mandated low child-to-adult ratios" and "minimum wages for workers." Programs would run for "at least 10 hours a day and ... operate at times to serve parents who work non-traditional hours."
Sanders said in a statement Monday: "It is unconscionable that in the wealthiest country in the world, we do not properly invest in early childhood education. ... We will guarantee free, universal childcare and pre-kindergarten to every child in America to help level the playing field, create new and good jobs, and enable parents to more easily balance the demands of work and home."