Policy Resource

Will They “Rock the Cradle” at the Presidential Debate?

Oct 18, 2012

Tomorrow night, after most infants and toddlers in America have been tucked into their cribs, President Obama and Governor Romney will take to the stage for their second debate and the last one where they will be questioned about domestic issues.

Members of the audience for this town hall-style event no doubt are honing their questions should they get called on. Where we come from, there is only one question: Will the candidates “rock the cradle”? That is, will they talk about the importance of ensuring necessary services and supports are in place to prepare all young children for their futures?

In the last debate, issues important to infants, toddlers, and families—like high poverty rates, lack of access to high quality early care and education programs, and the need for paid family leave—received scarcely a mention. They did a little better in the Vice Presidential debate last Thursday, where early childhood education came up. In Tuesday’s debate, domestic issues will share time with foreign policy.

With attention focused on issues important to big people, like the economy, taxes, and budget deficits, not to mention terrorism and war, issues that directly affect babies and toddlers do not always rise to the surface. Of course, the “big issues” affect them, too. But so do less talked-about issues that affect how ready for school and life they are, which in turn affects how prepared they are to be the workforce of the future.

So as we gather round the telly once more in hopes the needs of children and families will make the grade, we’ve created a way to help you follow the debate AND chart whether the candidates or the audience hit any milestones related to the needs of young children. To give credit where credit is due, this activity was inspired by MomsRising and their creative advocacy.

Presidential Bingo Infant-Toddler Edition provides an engaging way to help you determine if the candidates “Rock the Cradle” by addressing policies related to:

Child welfare Relationship building Affordable and accessible health care Developmental and family supports Language and early literacy Early learning

It’s easy to play. Download and print the bingo card. Every time you hear a candidate, moderator, or audience member mention an issue related to those topics, award a point in the appropriate box. For a more authentic bingo experience, it’s ok to place a Cheerio on the box instead. When the debate is over, total the points to see how babies, toddlers, and families rated.

Be sure to forward the bingo card to friends and colleagues. You also can tweet the campaigns to ask the candidates to “Rock the Cradle”. Here are some sample tweets:

  • 1 in 4 babies in poverty—will @BarackObama and @MittRomney #RocktheCradle at the debate & #TalkPoverty? http://bit.ly/SYcl0v
  • 4% eligible toddlers in Early Head Start—will @BarackObama and @MittRomney #RocktheCradle at the debate & #TalkPoverty? http://bit.ly/SYcl0v
  • 63% moms of infants in labor force need child care— will @BarackObama and @MittRomney #RocktheCradle at the debate & #TalkPoverty? http://bit.ly/SYcl0v

What to do the next morning? Of course, the morning after the debate, amidst the analysis by the pundits, you may be pondering what to do with your infant-toddler bingo card. It certainly would make a cute addition to your fridge door during election season, but here’s another idea. Make two copies of your bingo card and send one to President Obama and one to Governor Romney at their campaigns. Let them know how you thought they did for young children and their families and ask them to “Rock the Cradle” by proposing policies for the next Administration that ensure all babies have the opportunity to reach their potential.

Read more about: