According to a new NPR poll, child care is the greatest source of financial stress for families today – making it a hot button issue this election season. To address the rising cost of child care, FFYF Executive Director, Kris Perry, along with David Kirp, senior scholar at the Learning Policy Institute, were featured guests on Wednesday’s episode of Your Call, a San Francisco NPR affiliate radio show. As a featured guest, Kris used this opportunity to educate listeners on the current state of American child care policy, Obama’s child care policy proposal, what states are doing to champion this issue for families, and much, much more.
Child Care and Congressional/Administration Success
As Kris notes on the show, child care is one piece of the birth through five continuum. For some families this may resemble or come in the form of preschool, home visits, or actual child care – all programs within the birth through five continuum that help a child develop and become successful later in life.
Nevertheless, there has been significant bipartisan support coming out of this administration and Congress on child care and early learning. For example, in November 2014, Child Care Development Block Grants (CCDBG) were reauthorized by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. The reauthorization in 2014 incorporated feedback from local, state and national advocates with improvements to child care safety, quality, access, affordability and continuity of care.
Likewise, both the Senate and House LHHS appropriations bill allocated nearly $3 billion each to the CCDBG program. President Obama also released his budget request for FY2017, which included an $82 billion proposal in mandatory Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) funding over the next 10 years, starting with a request for $6.58 billion in mandatory funds for child care in FY2017.
As a result of the work done on the federal level, governors from red and blue states are stepping up to the plate. While it plays out differently in each state, we have seen great leadership and an overall positive trend line in investments for early learning and children under five. And states are now thinking how they can creatively use their budgets or create new funding streams to ensure access and kindergarten readiness.
Presidential Candidate Proposals
Kris also used the radio show roundtable to discuss the difference between the two presidential candidates’ child care proposals. On one hand, you have Donald Trump’s campaign, which has proposed tax breaks in the form of tax credits. However, it is important to note that this plan tends to skew more positively to higher income earners. Hence, the more you make, the bigger the refund. This will not help the most vulnerable low- and middle-income families.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton’s plan is a broad birth through five plan that includes universal pre-k, increasing salaries of professionals in the workforce, doubling investment in home visits, affordable child care for college students, and much, much more.
While no one or program or plan is the silver bullet for early childhood care and learning, it is very exciting that both candidates have put forth proposal and are telling voters that they deem this to be an important election issue, despite their differences.
This enthusiasm is seen by a majority of voters across the political spectrum. For four years running, the First Five Year’s bipartisan poll shows a majority of voters want greater access to affordable, quality early childhood education. Even, in the midst of an angry and polarized election, 90% of voters agree on one thing: Congress and the next president should work together to make quality early childhood education more accessible and affordable to low- and middle-income families. That includes 78% of Trump supporters and 97% of Clinton supporters. The First Five Years Fund’s annual national poll shows that early childhood education is one of the best ways for candidates to connect with voters because it is one of their top priorities–regardless of party.
It is our hope that Congress and a new Administration can harness the bipartisan energy and momentum to further support state and local efforts to expand high-quality early childhood opportunities for all children birth through age five.
Listen to the full show to hear Kris’ points mentioned above as well as audience Q&A.