FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Washington, DC – February 7, 2023 – ZERO TO THREE, the leading nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, today joined Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) and other policymakers and advocates on Capitol Hill prior to the State of the Union address to urge congressional to fix the nation’s broken child care system. Advocates are calling on Congress to increase investments in our country’s child care system and to implement comprehensive policies that better serve and meet the needs of young children, their families, and early educators.
Speaking during the event, Matthew Melmed, Executive Director of ZERO TO THREE, stated that:
I’d like to start with the science — a baby’s brain develops more rapidly during their first three years than at any other point in their life, making a strong start crucial. This early brain development lays the foundation for all future learning, for success in school and in life, and much of it takes place in childcare settings.
That is why it is absolutely critical that babies and families have access to high-quality childcare. Babies and their families need it, and as a nation we need to make sure they have it.
Currently, far too many families with young children lack access to the high-quality care that feeds a baby’s growing brain. The last few years have been hard. Beyond the pandemic, families with babies, and their toddlers have been hit by the “tripledemic” of COVID, RSV, and the Flu. Ask anyone who cares for a baby, it’s tough to catch a break.
And many families who received relief from the Child Tax Credit, had that support yanked away, further compromising their ability to pay for quality care.
Making matters even worse are the huge numbers of early educators leaving the workforce. These amazing people care for, and educate, our babies and young children, yet sadly aren’t paid well or recognized for the critical work they do.
They have had enough. They are leaving. We need to retain, better support, and grow this workforce.
Strolling Thunder family advocate Jessica from Massachusetts put it bluntly: “We are in a child care crisis. Mothers are walking away from the workforce because they simply can’t afford it. People are paying second mortgages and are being forced to choose between putting food on the table [and] putting their child in childcare. We can’t keep going like this.”
It’s all too much. Our nation’s families are reeling and begging for support, and solutions. The good news is that these are solvable problems. We just need the willpower to do it. Congressional action is needed to give our nation’s babies and families the relief and care options that they so desperately need.
ZERO TO THREE is proud to support Senator Murray, Senator Sanders, Congresswoman DeLauro, and all of the Members of Congress who are urging action on this most important of issues for the nation’s families, and for the nation’s future.
Together, we can do this.
Joining Senator Murray and Mr. Melmed were Senator Murray’s State of the Union guest, Angélica; Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee; House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA-05); Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Ranking Member of House Appropriations Committee, and her SOTU guest, Allyx Schiavone, Executive Director of the Friends Center for Children; Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL-22), Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus; Representative Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34), Chair of the Congressional Dads Caucus; Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07) and her SOTU guest, Jaqueline Sanches, an early educator and mother of two; Representative Sara Jacobs (D-CA-51); Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09); Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18); Michelle Kang, CEO of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); Mildred Waller, a family child care provider in Virginia; Julie Kashen, Senior Fellow and Director of Women’s Economic Justice at the Century Foundation; Sarah Rittling, Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund; and many more.
The full video of the event can be found here, with Mr. Melmed’s remarks starting at the 55-minute mark.