The US child tax credit should be raised to $5000 immediately. If it isn’t refundable, it should at least apply to payroll taxes. Children benefit the society as a whole, and are costly these days.
That said, I don’t believe the cost per child birth to age 18 is anything like the $235,000 figure reported by the Department of Agriculture. The implied yearly number per child is $13,000, which is absurd. The figures might be a little more believable if you include lost income from mothers who don’t work or work part-time, but the figures don’t include that.
I also realize that costs may be greater in other parts of the country, but frankly if you’re living somewhere where a kid costs enough per year to bring the average up to 13k, move.
What would be interesting, though, is to compare the cost figures by region with the family sizes per region? I bet there is a correlation, which either tells you that parents have a ‘family budget’ and they keep having kids until its exhausted, or it tells you that people who want kids move to where they can have them without selling the firstborn.