Mixed messages from the White House pit Ivanka Trump against the administration’s reported tax reform plans

Leading up to the 2016 election, Ivanka Trump made access to child care a centerpiece of her campaign message, often speaking of Donald Trump’s proposal to allow families to deduct more their child care expenses from their income taxes.

But last month, the Trump administration reportedly abandoned plans for the child care tax credit, as the tax reform framework released by the White House and leaders on Capitol Hill reportedly eliminates the longstanding and widely popular Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC). The CDCTC is the only tax credit specifically designed to help working families with the cost of child care. Instead, the Big Six framework offers, with little detail, a plan to expand the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to an unspecified amount. While we support expanding the CTC, it is not tied to child care, and CTC money may be used for any expense—even those not related to the costs of raising a child.

Curiously, as recently as last week, a spokesperson for the White House said Ivanka supports maintaining the child care and dependent tax credit in the tax reform process. So when it comes to the fate of the CDCTC, what is the real position of the Big Six, the White House, and even Ivanka Trump?

Nearly 15 million children under the age of six in the U.S. have working parents, and paying for child care presents a significant and growing burden to parents’ ability to enter, return, or remain in the workforce. The average cost of child care in America is higher than the average cost of in-state college tuition.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill are fighting to keep the CDCTC in the code, expand it to better reflect today’s cost of care, and make it refundable to reach more middle- and low-income families who currently can’t access the credit. The Promoting Affordable Childcare for Everyone (PACE) Act, sponsored by Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), would update the federal government’s child care-related tax credits to make them more useful to American families.

Overwhelming research shows increasing access to a high-quality early childhood education is one of the most effective investments for American families and communities, generating outcomes that are proven to set children up to succeed in school and become productive adults later in life. Voters understand the importance of tax provisions that support access to child care, as well. Our 2017 national poll found 81 percent of the electorate—including 74 percent of Trump voters—support providing a child care-specific tax credit to help parents better afford quality child care and early education programs, with low- and middle-income parents who need more help getting a larger credit.

Child care is not a luxury for American families—it’s a necessity. Ivanka Trump has spoken publicly about her own experience as a working mom, and has been a vocal advocate within the White House for working families. Tax reform presents a real opportunity to help address the reality families face each day when trying to pay for their child care.

Maintaining the CDCTC, expanding it, and making it refundable will provide crucial support to families who need it most. The White House should make their position clear and present a united front on the importance of the CDCTC. In the meantime, FFYF will continue to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are focused on improving the tax code to reflect the modern realities families face with the cost of child care.