Screenshot from Saving Child Care: a Republican National Convention Virtual Event.
With the close of the 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC), we’re one step closer to the election! Similar to the Democratic National Convention last week, the RNC served many functions. The Republican Party formally re-nominated President Trump and Vice President Pence as their candidates for election. Leaders spoke about the party’s ideals. Many spoke about the need for a strong economy. The president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, spoke about seeking a positive future for our children, and the vital role child care plays in their future successes. Here at Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), we know that investments in early education, especially quality child care, are a surefire way to accomplish both goals: strengthening the economy and creating a brighter future for all children.
That’s why we partnered with Save the Children and Care for All Children to host an online event during the RNC focused on saving the child care industry. Many providers and centers closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, and many will not be able to reopen their doors without significant government assistance. That puts additional stress on countless families across the U.S. who already struggled to find quality, accessible and affordable care. To highlight this serious concern, our event, Saving Child Care, featured a variety of perspectives on the issue.
Saving Child Care: A Republican National Convention Virtual Event
On August 25, Executive Director of the Merage Foundations, Sue Renner, welcomed participants and introduced the first segment of the event: a discussion with two parents about their experience with child care.
Dana Harvey is an accountant and lifestyle blogger, and a mother to two young girls. She spoke about her experience trying to find care for her daughter. “High-quality child care costs as much as our mortgage, for one child,” she said. She and her husband felt they only had three options: pay for the high-quality care, have a family member provide the care, or quit one of their jobs. They decided to lean on family for care, a solution that Dana deeply appreciates. Yet she knows that these early years are crucial to a child’s life, and worries that her daughter is missing out on quality early education. “It’s important for my daughter to have a good mix of formal learning and informal playtime,” she said.
Jessica Balk is the Central Iowa Volunteer Outreach Leader for SCAN. She is a single mother and a child care provider. She talked about how difficult it is to live in a child care desert, which is defined as “areas where there are either no licensed child care providers for children under the age of 5 or less than one slot in a licensed child care center for every 3 children under the age of 5.” Many were already struggling to access care before the pandemic, she said. That’s why she approached her City Council and local business leaders to do something about it.
“We came up with an idea to work with local businesses to see if they would help us put together a child care center,” Jessica said. “The biggest issue is always funding. We don’t have enough funding from the state and federal level to do something like that. So we have to rely on each other, and we have to rely on businesses stepping in.”
Leading the Way
After hearing the powerful testimonies from Dana and Jessica, Sue turned the conversation over to two elected leaders who are actively working to protect child care: Gov. Brad Little (R-ID) and State Rep. Vance Aloupis (R-FL).
“If you really care about education reform…then you have to focus on early education,” Rep. Aloupis said. He repeatedly stressed that child care is vital to the health of the economy. Without child care, parents can’t work. And the investments we make today in children will lead to greater positive outcomes down the road. “This is an issue that our business community needs to get behind,” he said. “This is about our workforce of today and tomorrow.”
Gov. Little strongly agreed. “[Early childhood education] is the place to put the money. It’s the place to put the resources,” he said. He sympathized with providers who are struggling due to the pandemic, and noted how the uncertainty of it all has seriously damaged many business plans. He also acknowledged how difficult it was for parents to find care – pre-pandemic – and how he is committed to rebuilding stronger.
“Ultimately, my goal is all kids are reading proficiently by third grade. To bear that out, you have to start early,” he said. “It’s an advantage to everybody.”
You can act now to support child care! Here’s how: