Infant-Toddler Child Care Sample Op-Ed
Writing an op-ed in your local newspaper is an effective way to get the attention of your community and policymakers on child care.
Use the following example to advocate for quality child care. Be sure to personalize the text and make it relevant to your community! For more information on how to write an op-ed, click here. If you’d like assistance submitting an op-ed to your local paper, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Example: Investing in Quality Care Pays Big Dividends
The rising cost of child care continues to put a strain on hard working families. [INSERT A SIMILAR LOCAL EXAMPLE THAT ILLUSTRATES THE CHALLENGES FAMILIES FACE WITH CHILD CARE FOR INFANTS AND TODDLERS] Ex: Danielle Jones is facing the difficult decision to leave her job because her salary does not cover the cost of care for her one-year-old. But she worries about her future prospects. Will she be able to return to the workforce once her child is in school? Will her husband’s salary be enough to support the family needs? Will her son miss out on early learning opportunities if he is not in child care? For many families, these worries are common and increasingly more widespread.
The burden of cost is one that must be urgently addressed. In 33 states and Washington, D.C., child care costs more than college tuition at a state university. [INSERT SPECIFIC LOCAL EXAMPLE, IF AVAILABLE] According to the standard set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, center-based infant child care is unaffordable in 49 states and Washington, D.C.—that is, if care can be found at all. Child care assistance for low-income families today reaches fewer than 1 of every 6 eligible children.
High cost is not the only child care challenge facing working families. In the first three years of life, brain connections form at the rate of more than a million per second. With many young children spending hours in child care each day, a lot of those connections are forming while away from their parents. When child care supports close relationships between babies and their caregivers, it feeds a baby’s growing brain, building the foundation for the development and learning necessary for them to thrive as adults. But 3 out of 4 infants are in low or mediocre quality care settings that can be detrimental to their development. Despite research that shows that at-risk children—children from families with few resources and under great stress –benefit most from high quality child care, poor quality care is often the only care available in low-income communities.
Investing in quality child care not only gets babies off to the healthy start they need to thrive, it’s also good for the economy. Quality early childhood programs that begin at birth can deliver a 13 percent per year return on investment, through more years of education, more employment, and better adult health.
But our current child care market is failing to help the families who need assistance the most. Nationally, almost half of children under three years old live in or near poverty. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program is the main source of federal funding for child care subsidies for low-income working families and improvements to child care quality. But funding levels have not kept pace with the rising cost of child care for nearly 15 years, resulting in the number of children served by CCDBG dropping by more than 373,000. Additionally, many low-income families don’t benefit from the current child care tax credit because they have little or no federal income tax liability and the amount of the credit doesn’t come near offsetting the cost of care. At a time when we want families to work, we are putting quality child care farther and farther out of reach.
As Congress looks to build a strong future for America, it would be wise to invest in CCDBG and create a system that ensures quality care for young children, no matter what their parents’ income level. Doing so will change the odds for working families and provide a path to economic independence. It will also ensure our future workforce – today’s babies and toddlers – arrive at school ready to learn and prepared for future success.
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