Day care plan costs too muchThe government’s plan to provide free day care for toddlers under the age of two is in jeopardy due to a lack of funds. The nationwide council of mayors and governors decided in a recent meeting that local governments can no longer afford the expenses and demanded that the central government finance the program. The government should feel responsible for the mess it created from rash policy making.
The free day care service raised questions from the start. It is a good example of what can be produced by half-baked policies led by the welfare craze. The program had issues from the planning stage. The government initially estimated about 170,000 recipients nationwide by counting the number of toddlers using day care services. The central government then appropriated 370 billion won ($325 million) for the project, and local governments allocated 340 billion won.
But the math was wrong. After announcements about free day care, parents with toddlers at home all applied for the service, adding another 130,000 participants and 280 billion won in expenses.
Then, the question of fairness was raised. Parents raising kids at home demanded a share of the benefit. The government then hurriedly decided to up child care allowances. It also announced that it would expand free day care to preschools up to the age of four from next year.
On top of the money problem, the program largely appears to be benefiting day care centers instead of the children and their parents. The state finances basic care, but parents, upon registering their kids, have to cover a number of extras - entrance fees, uniforms, field trips and extracurricular activities. Day care centers have seemingly come up with endless ways to charge parents. And to make more money, they charge full-day fees for kids who only register for half-day programs.
Centers also receive funds to pay for the facilities they use. For a child less than a year old, a day care center receives 390,000 won for child care and 360,000 won in facility support. It is no wonder day care centers are opening everywhere. Now, centers are being traded in the real estate market at prices that top millions of won.
The government should learn a lesson and be more prudent with how it spends our taxes. The child care program is too costly and extensive to have been initiated without thorough studies. A new long-term and systematic plan is needed to manage it more efficiently in a manner acceptable to us all.