Putting Child Care And Pre-K Within Reach

National solutions for child care and pre-k need to be a major part of this election.

National Solutions For Child Care And Pre-K Need To Be A Major Part Of This Election

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: all families deserve to have access to quality, affordable child care and pre-K for their children. But unfortunately, for many working families across the United States, this is not the case. In every state, full time child care at a center costs more than median rent. And currently, only roughly 34% of preschool-aged children are enrolled in public pre-k in the United States.

Working families in Pennsylvania face hard realities just like families across the country: More than 17,000 Philadelphia children do not have access to quality, affordable pre-K, and 68 percent of Pennsylvania children younger than age 6 have both parents in the workforce. In response to the child care and pre-k needs of working families in Pennsylvania and to highlight the needs of working families everywhere, the Center for American Progress’s WithinReach Campaign partnered with Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) yesterday to highlight the importance of these issues.

At the Philadelphia event, Mayor Kenney and partners discussed how states and cities—like Philadelphia—are leading the way on policies for working families, but they still need a major public investment to put quality pre-K and child care within reach for all working families. In light of limited action at the federal level, Philadelphia has worked toward progress for working families by proposing to expand access to quality pre-k.

Cities can’t do it alone. There needs to be movement on the national level—like Mayor Kenney said at yesterday’s event, “As we’re having a debate about our national priorities, early education needs to be at the forefront.” In this election, working families need presidential candidates to focus on child care and pre-k. As Carmel Martin of the Center for American Progress explained in Philadelphia, “We need our presidential candidates in both parties to tell us what they will do to make this a national priority. Every day that we fail to invest in preschool, more children fall behind.”

National solutions for child care and pre-k need to be a major part of this election because putting quality, affordable child care and access to pre-k within reach is a no-brainer for working families and the economy. For every $1 dollar invested in early childhood education, the public receives $7 in benefits. And equal access to high-quality child care and pre-k would increase GDP by $551 billion by allowing more parents to seek and keep their jobs while simultaneously developing the next generation of innovators. One way to expand access to child care would be through a High Quality Child Care Tax Credit, as CAP has proposed, which would help low-income and middle-class families afford quality child care. CAP’s proposal would expand child care access to roughly 6 million children younger than age 5 in the United States.

BOTTOM LINE: Every child and family deserves access to quality, affordable child care and pre-k. As Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says, “We need quality pre-k now so that every child has the tools they need to succeed no matter where they live.” All 2016 candidates should follow Mayor Kenney’s lead and propose policies to put child care and pre-k within reach for working families, to help children everywhere and strengthen the economy.

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