Following up on Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama today detailed his proposal for making child care a “national economic priority.”
We at Child Care Aware® of America are enthusiastic about the President putting child care front and center. We have worked for many years advocating for high quality, affordable and accessible child care – both as a workforce support and an essential early learning opportunity.
Perhaps more importantly, though, we are thrilled that the President has reinvigorated the conversation about quality child care so that people around the country – on Twitter, on the radio, at the dinner table and in the board room – are talking about the ways in which access to child care helps children, families and businesses.
Specifically, the President’s proposal, which he outlined today during a speech at the University of Kansas, would:
- Make a significant investment in the Child Care and Development Fund, which helps every eligible family with young children afford quality child care.
- Triple the maximum child care tax credit to $3,000 per young child.
- Create a new innovation fund to help states design programs that better serve families that face unique challenges in finding quality care, such as those in rural areas or working non-traditional hours.
All three of these initiatives are good policy that will make a difference.
We already know that in 30 states and the District of Columbia, a year of child care for an infant in a center costs more than a year of tuition for a state university. Unless we make changes, we will not be able to give children the healthy start they need, families the financial security they need, or businesses the dependable work force they need.
We also know that simply making child care available is not enough. It must be quality child care. In those first years of life, setting children up for success is critical. Indeed, as U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell recently noted, “high-quality early learning experiences are also linked to increased productivity and earnings when these children become adults.” A quality child care program, is more than a place for kids to go while their parents are at work. It’s a safe, stimulating environment that provides an invaluable opportunity for early learning. That is why I am especially glad that the President included an innovation fund in his proposal. We must constantly be working to improve the child care our children receive.
To do our part to support these proposals, we need to take action now!
- Share information with your friends, family and network:
- Share this blog on social media. Make sure your friends and colleagues understand the proposals and the impact they will have on our communities.
- Share news stories, like this one from NPR (U.S. Once Had Universal Child Care, But Rebuilding It Won't Be Easy) that clearly show the need for quality, affordable child care.
- Talk to your State Representatives and Senators.
- Those who represent you in Washington need to know that this is an important issue. Contact your Representatives and your Senators. Send an email, write a letter, tweet at them, call or stop by their local offices. Make sure that your voice is heard.
As child care advocates, we have long worked to raise awareness of challenges that working families face, and even more importantly trying to find solutions.That work has not always been easy, and it has often been behind-the-scenes. With President Obama’s new commitment to move child care from a “side issue” or a “women’s issue” to a “national economic priority,”we cannot wait to take action. Working in a bipartisan manner, we will continue to advocate for these proposals.
Child care now is a national priority that we can all work to support.