Public Policy Matters, Because
Child Care Keeps America Working
Without child care, parents cannot go to work, school or training. Public policy not only dictates the availability of child care, but it also affects the quality and affordability of child care. It determines funding levels and legislation, regulation and oversight. Whether we realize it or not, politicians have a say in what the child care workforce earns, education and professional development requirements, and child care and early education standards.
If we do not educate ourselves on public policy and provide input and feedback, legislators make all the decisions and have total control over the early care and education system. Often, these decision makers don’t have any children of their own, or, if they do have kids, they may not face the same challenges and obstacles that many families face on a daily basis.
One of the biggest challenges families face is
paying for daycare. Child care is expensive, and many families can barely afford to work. This isn’t just an issue for low-income families either. Many middle income families are struggling to pay for daycare.
What happens when a parent can’t afford quality child care? He or she either can’t work, go to school or get training, or they are forced to leave their child in poor quality care, or worse, they feel they have no choice but to leave their child alone while they go to work. No parent should ever have to make these choices.
Yes, there are some funds available to
help parents pay for child care, but the funding only pays for a very small percentage of families that meet the income eligibility requirements. Thousands of children are eligible for subsidies in virtually every state, but their parents can’t get help because there simply isn’t enough funding. And what about those middle income families that struggle to pay for daycare? Making high quality child care accessible to all families needs be a priority.
Some other areas where you might want to get involved in public policy and advocacy are Quality and Quality Rating Systems, Early Childhood Workforce Issues, Special Needs and Inclusion, Licensing and Oversight, Professional Development, Affordable Health and Dental Care for Children and Families or Universal Pre-school.
These are just some of the areas where you might get involved. I will be putting together resources here to help you understand the issues, and link you to advocacy organizations and campaigns working on the issues so that you can get involved.
Every family faces their own challenges, but it’s very likely that other families are also struggling with the same issue. It is only when we come together that we realize we are not alone with our struggles. And it is only when we work together and raise our voices as one, that we make ourselves heard to those who need to hear.
Think about this: Your representatives at all levels, local, state and federal, know that if they hear from 5 parents about an issue, then chances are, there are at least, another 500 other parents out there with the same issue. That’s a lot of votes. Parents and providers often don’t realize just how much political power they have. But remember, you don’t have any power unless you use it. I encourage you all to exercise your power.
I believe it IS possible to make high quality, affordable child care available to all families, and for the early childhood workforce to be compensated at comparable levels to K-12. But, not unless families and providers demand it….
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