It's Time to Put Child Care on the Election Year Map

Several organizations are shining a spotlight on child care this week

When Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen described Ann Romney, the wife of likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as having “never worked a day in her life,” reaction and analysis varied wildly, albeit somewhat predictably. But one overlooked aspect of the debate over the definition of a “working mother” is the critical and essential element of raising kids known as child care. This sub-topic includes availability and access to it, the quality and reliability of it and, of course, the cost of it.

Kicking off this week, the National Women’s Law Center’s campaign to Put Child Care on the Map seeks to ensure that politicians don’t miss the trees for the forest on this one. Today the NWLC will host its first conference call about the campaign at 2 p.m. (you can sign up here if you’re interested). They have also posted a number of other ways through which people can engage their elected officials on this topic. The approaches range from the usual suspects such as letter and opinion writing to more personal and unique methods that include delivering drawings from child care programs to district offices, hosting a member of Congress for a local child care program visit and adding a pin to the NWLC map after the visit.

Two additional organizations involved are the Early Care and Education Consortium, which provides a toolkit to help advocates plan and RESULTS, a program geared toward acting on solutions to end the root causes of poverty.

Is the matter of child care an effective election year issue? Certainly, if no one makes an issue of it, it won’t be. But even with the activism around it, could there be progress, in this presidential cycle, toward making quality child care more affordable, more available and more reliable? Could rallying around these goals enhance one side or the others’ voter turnout? Most parents admit that there is a break-point at which crying, screaming, whining and throwing a tantrum – aka making their voice heard - does make a difference. We’ll have to wait and see if adults can succeed as often as two-year-olds do.

Jill Miller Zimon is Project Director for the Civic Commons EfficientGovNetwork. She's also a city council member in Pepper Pike, Ohio, a Contributing Editor at BlogHer.com and has blogged at Writes Like She Talks since 2005. Follow her on Twitter here!

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