Linda K. Smith

Child care is infrastructure. We should treat it that way
Just as our bridges and roads are crumbling, so too are our child care options

OPINION — Millions of American parents dropped their children off at a child care facility this morning. Chances are many of those facilities don’t meet basic health and safety standards. Though we know the quality of a facility, whether a formal center or a family home care site, is directly linked to a child’s development and well-being, we also know most places are far from optimal.

This is yet another way America’s child care system is failing families today.

Want universal child care? You can’t just clone Head Start
I would know. I oversaw the program

OPINION — A new proposal by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to fund universal child care takes its inspiration from the success of the Head Start and military child care programs. While appealing in theory, replicating either of these systems is fraught with challenges.

I would know. I helped create the military system and later oversaw Head Start.

The Youngest Victims of the Opioid Crisis Deserve Better
Policymakers must extend services for infants beyond the first weeks of life

OPINION — The opioid epidemic has hollowed out communities across the country and touched the lives of Americans of all ages. But we know disturbingly little about the youngest victims of this crisis: babies born with a type of opioid withdrawal called neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS.

One in five pregnant women fills a prescription for opioids, and while not all their babies will be born with the syndrome, all are at an increased risk. Just how prevalent is NAS? One government fact sheet noted that more than 21,000 babies were born with it in 2012 alone, and a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the incidence of the condition spiked dramatically between 2000 and 2012. But from there the trail seems to go cold.

One Way to Fix the Child Care Crisis? Look to the Tax Law
‘Opportunity Zones’ incentive can help close the early childhood gap

OPINION — America faces a mounting child care crisis. Too many families lack access to safe, affordable and high-quality care for their infants and toddlers. But a small but important provision in last year’s tax law, designed to spur investment in under-resourced communities, could provide an unlikely solution.

That solution comes in the form of a new economic development incentive known as Opportunity Zones. Under the tax law, investors will receive a steep reduction in taxes on their capital gains in exchange for substantial and long-term investment in low-income communities designated as Opportunity Zones. This tax incentive could be combined with others in the economic development toolkit, such as the New Markets Tax Credit and historic building preservation tax credits, to support a wide variety of investments in real estate and businesses.