Screenshot from Saving Child Care: a DNC Virtual Event.
As this week comes to a close, so does the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC). In addition to officially electing Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris as the Democratic presidential and vice presidential nominees, this week highlighted many of the issues that the party will be running on in November. A reoccurring theme was investing in our future by investing in children and families.
We know that children cannot vote, but their struggles are very real and deserve the recognition at this highest level. One of the most troubling issues is the safety of children arriving at the U.S. southern border.
An incredibly touching moment came when 11-year-old Estela shared her experience when her mother was deported. Estela’s heart-wrenching account was a stark reminder that families belong together.
Child care was also top of mind for many, as the COVID-19 crisis has upended the lives of many families with young children and seriously impacted the already fragile industry. Many lawmakers spoke about why it’s a worthy investment – one we must make soon.
As Sen. Warren said, “Infrastructure like roads, bridges, and communications systems keeps our economy going. It’s time to recognize that child care is also part of the basic infrastructure of this nation—it’s infrastructure for families.”
Ahead of the DNC, Save the Children Action Network partnered with Save the Children and Care for All Children to plan an online event that would highlight this crucial goal. The event, which took place on Tuesday, August 18, focused on saving the child care industry in the U.S. (We’ll be hosting a similar event during the Republican Convention – learn more and register here!)
Saving Child Care: A Democratic National Convention Virtual Event
Carmel Martin, senior policy advisor with the Biden Campaign, started off the event by emphasizing how important child care is for American families and the economy, and how we need to act now to save the industry. Following her remarks, early childhood policy expert and writer Elliot Haspel moderated a conversation between parents and advocates Dana Harvey, Ty Tutson and Tiffany Welch.
Their conversation was an honest and raw perspective on the impact COVID-19 has had on families across the U.S. Finding affordable, quality care was already difficult and now, many don’t know if their centers or providers will be able to reopen their doors again.
“A huge chunk of my paycheck was going towards [our] wonderful, quality care,” Tiffany said. “We made the decision that one of us had to stay home. […] I had to step away from a job I loved, even though it wasn’t high-paying, because we couldn’t afford child care.”
Moreover, working parents often have to balance caring for their children with their day-to-day jobs. As Ty pointed out, this disproportionally affects women, and their ability to grow in their careers.
“If your child has colic, you don’t realize the time and effort it takes to be a sane human being when your child is in pain, and then go and function at work…It’s just not fair,” he said.
Despite the difficulty to make it work, these parents also know how important early learning is for children. As Dana mentioned, data shows that quality early learning can help close the income and gender gap, and is vital for children’s long-term outcomes.
Leading the Way
The conversation then turned to a moderated discussion between SCAN President Mark Shriver, Gov. Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Haaland (D-NM).
In talking about child care, Rep. Haaland spoke from experience. “I was a single mom so I know how important it can be,” she said. “We shouldn’t all have to scramble to give children the opportunity that they deserve.”
Gov. Polis agreed. “We know that the most successful interventions are birth through [age] four before it gets a lot more difficult,” he said. “[Early education] is an equity issue.”
Not only did Gov. Polis and Rep. Haaland recognize the importance of quality child care, but they appreciated the efforts parents and advocates like Dana, Ty and Tiffany were making to encourage their leaders to act.
“The voice of the people is the most important thing in this country,” Rep. Haaland said. “I’m happy that there is finally some recognition that child care workers are essential. But that is hollow if there isn’t investment.”
And as Polis mentioned, there is bipartisan support behind saving child care. The advocacy is working, but we can’t stop now.
“We can’t give up,” Rep. Haaland said. “It’s our job to make sure that we are moving forward.”
You Can Act Now!