A brief blink-and-you-miss-it mention during the first presidential debate is not enough for a group of determined advocacy, labor and women’s rights groups who are calling on the candidates to make affordable child care and quality early education central campaign focuses.
Called Stand with Families, the national initiative will be using the remaining time before Election Day to "arrange events like town hall meetings and protests and collect petition signatures to move their members and hundreds of thousands of early childhood educators and parents in need of affordable care . . . to demand action from the candidates and vote,” said the groups in a statement.
Specifically, the initiative is led by:
The initiative aims to help parents in need of affordable child care and quality early education, as well as early educators who routinely suffer from poor working conditions and low pay.
Earlier this year, the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) at the University of California, Berkeley performed the first comprehensive state-by-state analysis of early education in all 50 states and found that early educators are suffering in every single one of them.
The report found that the median wage for early educators is just $9.77, a wage that makes it impossible for such professionals to take care of families of their own.
The report also found that because most states do not require extensive qualifications for individuals looking to become early educators (23 states do not require a Bachelor’s degree for lead preschool teachers), the quality of early education programs suffers on a national level.
The problem is compounded by the fact that despite these quality concerns, child care costs continue to rise, having nearly doubled since 1997. Parents, especially low-income ones, are finding it increasingly difficult to find child care at all, let alone quality options.
"I love teaching kids and preparing our next generation, but low pay means I have to rely on my family to help buy groceries for my two kids. In this election, there’s no more important issue for me than addressing the child care crisis. When child care costs as much as rent or college tuition, and child care providers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the country, something is deeply wrong,” said Tamara Coleman, a Head Start Teacher's Assistant, in a Stand with Families statement.
While both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree that providing quality and affordable childcare access and early education opportunities is a priority, Stand with Families hopes to push for more conversation in the coming weeks.
Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor