Working parents in the United States struggle to meet the tremendously high cost of child care, which exceeds the cost of in-state college tuition in many states. For millions of low-income families, especially those in which the adults are working in low-wage jobs, “nontraditional” evening or weekend hours, or erratic schedules, the challenge of finding child care can be overwhelming. And despite the high cost of care, the child care workforce, many of whom are women of color, immigrant women, and parents themselves, is still one of the lowest-paid professions in the United States–over half of child care workers are on some form of public assistance. In short, it’s time to address child care, which is a central component of our infrastructure and key to the growth of our economy.
Providing access to the high quality, affordable child care that working parents and their children need will require a serious commitment from political leaders. Both major-party presidential campaigns have released plans to address child care in the U.S. Hillary Clinton has said that she will ensure that families pay no more than 10 percent of their income for child care, increase the quality of child care and early education programs, increase the availability of child care on college campuses, address the low compensation of child care workers, and make preschool universal for all 4-year-olds by the end of the decade. Donald Trump has outlined three proposals, including allowing tax deductions for the average cost of child care and creating savings accounts for child and elder care costs.
The second presidential debate will be a town hall style debate, allowing people to ask questions about the issues most important to them. Most working families will need child care at some point in their child’s life. Everyone benefits when children have high quality child care and early childhood experiences—parents are more likely to be able to get and keep a job, caregivers can support their own families, and children get a strong start in school and beyond. This Sunday, it is up to us to urge the candidates to discuss their plans to help working families meet their child care needs. The National Women’s Law Center has submitted a question to the Presidential Open Questions website and the top thirty questions will be considered for inclusion in the debate by the moderator. Vote to ask the presidential candidates a question about child care.