Rural Voters Support Investments to Address Hunger & Provide Quality, Affordable Child Care

Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) commissioned a poll of rural and small town voters from the bipartisan research team of New Bridge Strategy (R) and Hart Research (D). The study found that rural voters nationally are facing many challenges, including concerns about feeding their families and affordability of quality child care, which are having profound and personal impacts on them and people they know. Additionally, the study found strong bipartisan support for a number of policy remedies to address these challenges, including policies that increase government funding.

Rural Voters Have Been Hit Hard by Inflation

Rural voters deem inflation to be the greatest challenge facing rural families. In an open-ended question about the biggest problems facing families in rural areas, respondents are most apt to volunteer gas prices and inflation. When asked about specific problems in their area, 68% say children not having enough to eat is a serious problem.

Rural Voters Are Struggling to Feed Their Families

Similarly, 6 in 10 rural voters are worried they might not be able to afford enough food to feed themselves and their families over the next year. 63% of all rural voters say they are worried, with nearly a quarter saying they are “very worried.” Among parents, the proportion jumps to 77% who say they are worried they might not be able to afford enough food to feed their family.

Rural Voters Say Access to Affordable, Quality Child Care Has Gotten Worse Since the Pandemic

Rural Americans believe that access to affordable, quality child care and early childhood education is increasingly out-of-reach for many families. In multiple questions, rural voters tell us that “care for your children” is lacking in their community, costs too much, and that access to quality, affordable care has gotten worse in the last few years since the pandemic.

  • 55% say the availability of high-quality and affordable child care has gotten worse since the pandemic, while 31 % say it has gotten better or stayed the same and 13 % are unsure.
  • A majority say there are only some or very few high quality, affordable early education programs in their area; 20% say all or most are high-quality and affordable, 26 % say half are, 32 % say some and 22% say very few.

Rural Voters Across the Political Spectrum Support Government Action to Address the Twin Crises of Hunger and Lack of Quality, Affordable Child Care

Rural voters are overwhelmingly supportive of policy solutions for hunger. Of the proposals we tested, all of them received support from nearly 4 in 5 rural voters. In fact, more than 7 in 10 Republican voters support every policy proposal to address hunger, with even greater levels of support from Independents and Democrats. 

Hunger and child care results

Rural voters see child care as important for strengthening the economy. Rural voters know the importance of high-quality, affordable child care to the economy, and this cuts across party lines. Overall, 70% of rural voters say it is essential or very important to strengthening the economy and helping workers with an additional 25% saying it is somewhat important. The percentage of voters who say it is essential or very important is 68% among Republicans, 64% among Independents, and 78% among Democrats.

Regardless of party, rural voters are supportive of every public policy proposal we shared with them to help address the shortage of affordable quality child care and early childhood education. Each of the proposals we tested (below) receives support from more than seven-in-ten Republican voters with even higher levels of support from Independents and Democrats. This is particularly impressive given that three of the four proposal mention using government funding specifically to address the problem.

Affordable child care results

Our Poll in the News

Protect and strengthen SNAP to nourish our children

Events of recent years have emphasized the health imperative of ensuring the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens, especially our children. Every child deserves a chance to grow, learn and thrive, unburdened by the shackles of hunger. This is a call to action — a plea to Congress to safeguard the future by protecting and strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Advancing policy solutions that help rural families

The Hill
February 28, 2023

Rural policy is one issue where Republicans and Democrats should be able to find common ground. The new Congress will be presented with a concrete opportunity as it takes up work to pass a new farm bill that will authorize rural development programs at the Department of Agriculture. It’s an opportunity to address the pandemic’s lingering effects on child care, health care, food insecurity and more.

‘The thought of it makes my chest hurt’: Many rural families are stuck in an impossible situation, and fixing the childcare crisis is a first step to help them

Nearly one in three (31%) rural Americans, including 75% of parents, have personally faced at least one type of childcare challenge, according to a new survey shared exclusively with Fortune and conducted by the Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) that polled 1,006 respondents living in rural areas or small towns. Like Deitrich, 11% have had to leave the workforce as a result. 

Full Results & Additional Resources