Tell Congress, our kids deserve care!
As the parent of young children, I often hear the sentiment “enjoy every moment, it goes by in the blink of an eye” or “The days are long but the years are short.” I have to admit, even when I’m cleaning up a very expensive carton of eggs from the floor or changing my sixth diaper of the day, I know that I will somehow miss this time when my little ones want to cuddle up any chance they get, or enthusiastically sit down for storytime.
Sadly, right now both parents and caregivers aren’t able to enjoy these priceless and fleeting moments due to the utter lack of support they face. But Congress has the power to improve things for families and our economy at the same time.
Affordable child care is out of reach for far too many parents and caregivers who either live in child care deserts or can’t foot the costs of care that can sometimes even surpass the price of college education. Too often, parents may find themselves counting down to when they no longer have to pay a second mortgage just so their children can get the care they need. Instead of enjoying and fully cherishing these priceless early years with children, there is a sad and desperate sense of “hurry up and grow up” to fast forward to the point where our kids are in school. But the cost of not being able to savor our children’s early years is far too high of a price to pay. Our children and families deserve much, much more!
Did you know that WIC (the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program) has experienced a 12% increase in child participation since 2020 and the program is expected to serve 6.5 million pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and young children in fiscal year 2024? For decades, there has been a bipartisan commitment in Congress to provide necessary funding to serve all eligible participants – and that support must continue.
In addition to this, Vice President Harris recently announced new steps to deliver on the fight to lower the cost of child care by strengthening the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, which supports 1.5 million children and their families each month with child care assistance.
Specifically, these steps would:
- Cap child care copayments for working families at no more than 7% of a family’s income and encourage states to waive copayments for families at or below 150% of the federal poverty level;
- Improve financial stability for child care providers and incentivize their participation in the CCDBG program by ensuring they are paid on-time and based on program enrollment instead of attendance; and
- Make it easier for families to access CCDBG by encouraging states to accept online applications for CCDBG enrollment and to make siblings of children who already receive the subsidy presumptively eligible for benefits.
IDK about you but this sounds AMAZING to me. Now we just need Congress to get us closer to these solutions!
Another reason we need to shore up support for programs like these for families is because women are finally returning to the workforce. Job recovery after the worst of the pandemic mostly applied to men. The rates of women working had been lower till recently. Just this past June, the share of working-age women between 25 and 54 who are working or looking for work hit 77.8% — an all-time high. Among African American women in that age range, more than 80% are in the workforce. Yet there are fewer child care workers today than there were before COVID-19 struck. That shortage could grow worse when temporary federal subsidies expire this fall.
With not enough child care workers and the expiration of temporary subsidies, moms will once again be left begging their little ones to hurry up and grow up.
Supporting WIC and CCDBG is one way to make ongoing family support a reality. Instead of parents counting down the days for their kids to access schools or public programs, we can say “slow down just a little” to enjoy that bear hug, that smile of wonder, the nap on our shoulder that will one day be a fleeting memory. Shouldn’t memories of love be what families carry with them instead of the stress of constant struggle and worry? Don’t all of our families deserve that?