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Many families in communities across the country lack access to high-quality, affordable child care. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders recently posted an insightful video to twitter that highlights how this issue is playing out in his home state of Vermont and throughout the United States.
The video compares the child care in the U.S. to the approach taken in Finland, where the child care system ensures that high-quality affordable child care is available to every family who needs it. The prevalence of good options is contrasted to the challenges that Kathryn Becker Van Haste, Senator Sander’s policy advisor, had when she searched for child care for her own children both in Washington, D.C. and Vermont. Her experience is similar to the one faced by many families—and many families with fewer financial resources, unpredictable work schedules, children with special needs, or other challenges have even greater difficulty finding child care that meets their needs and that they can afford. Becker Van Haste points out what problems families encounter and why changing their options is so important.
The U.S. clearly needs a drastic shift in its child care policy. Federal and state legislators should make the funding to improve access to affordable, high-quality child care a key plank in their policy agendas. Federal policymakers can show their commitment start right now by co-sponsoring The Child Care for Working Families Act, introduced by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott(D-VA) — This bill would make more families eligible for child care assistance, reduce their costs, ensure that child care providers were paid a living wage and bolster the quality of child care. Enacting this legislation would be a giant step forward on an issue that is essential to the future of this country’s children, their families, and our current and future economy.