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Eva Bloomfield's picture

Springtime means more than post-winter thaw and the colorful display of fresh blossoms. It also marks the season of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, the two days a year we devote to saying thanks to our parents for all they’ve done for us. And those days are more than well-deserved because, let’s just say it--parenting is tough.

There’s the cost of raising a child, the balancing act between work and caregiving; and then there’s that whole ‘the emotional and social skills you help them develop can set them on a trajectory that may determine the quality of the rest of their lives’ thing.’ Parenting is inarguably a challenging, humbling and noble undertaking.

Some of the most critical social-emotional development (SED) happens between the tender ages of birth and five years of age. And the development that happens within those few short years can be key determinants of our long term emotional health and economic success.

And when it comes to children having the right support and resources for SED, parents and primary caregivers are paramount. From an aerial view, comforting, singing, reading and even talking to your child may not seem like much. But those deceptively simple acts can have astronomical effects, from a child learning to manage their emotions, to building their confidence and independence, to knowing how to express love. Such abilities are king when it comes to forging friendships, teamwork and leadership and, ultimately, imperative to thriving in school, higher education and eventually the workplace.

But here’s the rub: with rising costs, many parents don’t have the option of staying home with their children. In 2015, among families with children, 89.3 percent had at least one employed parent, whereas both parents worked in 60.6 percent of married-couple families. And that’s not even taking single parents into account.

While parents are working tirelessly to provide for their families, access to quality, affordable child care becomes crucial. Yet, the cost of quality child care is keeping it out of many working families’ reach. In most states, infant day care is more expensive than a year of tuition at a public college. We know that children need a safe, nurturing environment to enrich their SED, yet parents often can’t afford the time or cost needed. It feels very much like a Catch-22.

This year, in honor of the mothers, fathers and--for that matter--all caregivers out there, let’s go beyond the standard bouquet of flowers or breakfast in bed. Let’s recognize that all families deserve access to quality child care for their kids.

And, in doing so, let’s support the social-emotional development of all children so that, regardless of where they grow up or how much their families earned, they have a fair chance at long term health and success.

TAKE ACTION:Child Care Aware® of America and Hope Street Group are partnering to create a platform for you to reach out to your representative. Make your voice heard by letting your Congress member know that you support the prioritization of access to quality, affordable child care for all families. The partnership is an extension of the expressYOU campaign, committed to supporting parents around kids’ social-emotional development and providing them with a means of amplifying their voice around the issue.


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