01 July 2011

Revive the Nation Through Child Care

Recently, child care has been at the front of our minds at the Ms. Foundation. Proposed deficit reduction measures have inordinately affected women and children and federally-financed child care initiatives have been  key targets of right wing budget cutters. This past Tuesday we joined a group of Ms. Foundation grantees working on child care issues in low-income communities at a panel discussion they convened at New York University. And Carol Burnett from grantee Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative published a powerful op-ed in the Jackson Clarion Ledger.

Burnett writes, “last month alone 4,000 Mississippi children lost their child care subsidies -- paid for through the Child Care Development Block Grant program [a Federal subsidy assistance program] -- which helps parents afford child care and stay employed.” Organizations on the ground at the local level see the painful effects of federal policy -- every day thousands of women and children throughout the country have their lives upended by decisions made in Washington conference rooms.

Nationwide groups like MILICCI work tirelessly in their communities, dealing with local issues and budget cuts and mobilizing very specific constituencies (including parents, home care workers and child care center administrators). While these fights may seem diffuse they are based on the common belief that child care should be accessible and equitable, that it must meet the needs of the children, parents and workers involved. That is why the organizations -- Childspace CDI, Philadelphia, PA; Parent Voices, San Francisco, CA; All Our Kin, New Haven, CT; and the National Council for Research on Women, New York, NY -- that we joined on Tuesday at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University wish to build a strong national voice advocating for accessible quality child care.

The Ms. Foundation has long believed that the voices of the people involved -- the women, families and workers that rely on an effective and equitable child care industry everyday -- are the best ones to advocate for just policies. They know the issues, feel the reality, and have the solutions. As Carol Burnett writes, Mississippi does not offer any assistance to the “70 percent of families” in the state that are eligible, so “they are left with few options. Many will be forced to quit their jobs or give up education programs that would help them secure stable employment. With further reductions in child care assistance now proposed in Congress, this situation is likely to grow worse without a persistent public outcry.

Along with our grantees, the Ms. Foundation vows to raise our collective voices and fight for effective national child care policy. The economy won’t recover if our families can’t feed themselves, our nation won’t thrive if our children are not cared for. We urge the adoption of policies that build a true foundation of strength -- a nation with strong children, families, child care workers and communities.

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