UNIVERSAL CHILD CARE
Updated: Jul 16, 2020
The destructive breadth and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have been unprecedented in our lifetime. This silent killer and the unconscionable delayed response to it have exposed a class divide so deep it has caught the nation’s attention.
We are compelled to reassess essential services and to repair and expand our shredded social safety net. As we move forward, we think of our most vulnerable. Among these are our children. And among their needs is adequate and appropriate childcare.
Every child, every family, is entitled to high quality, free childcare. Our current system of expensive, poorly regulated and uneven options for parents does not work. Childcare is a huge financial burden on working families. In more than half the country, childcare costs more than in-state college tuition and, in some cases, more than rent. The high cost of childcare does not automatically translate to good care or good pay for workers.
The US is alone among Western countries in its failure to invest in childcare for all. While some care is state subsidized, most parents are at the mercy of the free market. In addition to costs there are other problems associated with the childcare now available. Many communities do not have an adequate number of childcare options. Children are often left in substandard care. We must end low quality, high cost childcare.
Sojourners for Truth and Justice calls for: Free Universal Child Care for All. This includes infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Many young children have parents who work outside the home. All families must have access to free childcare options that provide a safe, nurturing environment for their children. These options can include center based, in-home, day care, nursery and pre-school programs.
Locally run, federally subsidized programs must be licensed, monitored and inspected. National standards must be set for age appropriate programs, adult/child ratio, worker training and compensation. Program components must include practices that reflect current research in child development with attention to a balance of play and structured activities, experiences that enhance and improve cognition and social skills, with ongoing assessment of progress.
Effective, universal child care programs, inclusive of parent and community involvement, provide our children with the stepping-stones to become lifelong learners who will be thoughtful, well-educated adults, ready to meet the joys and challenges that lie ahead.