Washington, D.C. — In the two years since President Barack Obama announced a proposal to expand preschool, early childhood policy has received much needed attention. New important federal investments have been made and numerous state and local initiatives have begun, yet millions of families continue to struggle with the skyrocketing high cost and pervasive low quality of child care and pre-K. As the nation looks toward its next slate of leaders in 2016, the Center for American Progress today launched the “WithinReach” campaign to elevate and create momentum around the need to put high-quality child care and pre-K within reach for kids, for families, and for the economy as part of the national debate.
The campaign’s website, WithinReachCampaign.org, features a sign-on letter to urge candidates and policymakers to prioritize early childhood; an interactive map showing how out of reach child care and pre-K are in every U.S. state; a video; an action toolkit; a guide to engage candidates; click-to-share graphics for social media; and news and updates.
“For two-thirds of children under age 6 in the United States, all parents work. When high-quality child care and pre-K are out of reach, families are forced to make impossible choices: working long hours away from their family to pay for child care or dropping out of the workforce. Supporting access to affordable, high-quality child care and pre-K would ease the middle-class squeeze for millions of working families,” said Neera Tanden, President of CAP. “Greater access also levels the playing field for kids and families by improving children’s health and social outcomes. The WithinReach campaign will help ensure that these issues are a priority in the coming year.”
High-quality early education prepares children for school, gives families a fair shot to make ends meet and get ahead, and allows parents to participate more fully in the workforce, thereby strengthening the U.S. economy. But skyrocketing costs are putting child care and preschool out of reach for millions of hard-working Americans, leaving families struggling to choose between their paycheck and their child’s care. In the 12-year period from 2000 to 2012, child care costs for a typical middle-class family grew $2,300. In its 2014 report “The Middle-Class Squeeze,” CAP detailed the economic pressures felt by working- and middle-class families as a result of the growing costs of child care and other early childhood programs and supports.
Earlier this year, CAP released a new proposal that would provide a High-Quality Child Care Tax Credit to help low-income and middle-class families afford child care. The proposal would expand child care access to roughly 6 million children under age 5 in the United States, increasing the current service level more than fourfold while supporting financial security for working families. In 2013, CAP released a proposal to make high-quality preschool universally accessible to all 3- and 4-year-old children—legislation that has since been introduced in Congress as the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.
The Center for American Progress will host Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) at today’s campaign launch. Business, economic, and labor leaders will offer their views on a panel to follow, offering diverse voices to the campaign to make access to early childhood education a reality for millions of families. Click here to watch video from the event, which begins at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Related resource: A New Vision for Child Care in the United States by Katie Hamm and Carmel Martin
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at email@example.com or 202.478.6331.