The March issue of Parent Central Express presents a well summarized account of our own Mindy Bennett’s business trip to Washington. Mindy is the Program Director for Child Care Answers, the community outreach arm of Day Nursery. Today, over 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care arrangement every week while their parents work. On average, children of working mothers spend 36 hours every week in child care. Studies repeatedly have shown that high-quality child care – care that provides a loving, safe, stable and age-appropriate stimulating environment – helps children enter school ready to learn. Yet, less than 10 percent of the nation’s child care is of high-quality.
Unfortunately, not all of our policymakers know the facts about child care. Each year, members of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) come to Washington, D.C. to NACCRRA’s Public Policy Symposium. Representatives from state and local CCR&R agencies (Child Care Answers is part of the Indiana Association for Child Care Resource & Referral Association) from throughout the nation join together to raise the visibility of child care issues, such as the lack of quality in child care, and to advocate for improved conditions. Last year, members heard from Members of Congress that the need for high-quality child care was not a priority for them because they did not hear directly from parents on the issue. NACCRRA made it a priority to change that by bringing parents to the very next Symposium.
This year, NACCRRA introduced the parents program to ensure that policymakers heard directly from parents. Forty-four parents and grandparents from 39 states were chosen to attend the conference, which was held March 10-14, had the opportunity to meet with their representatives on Capitol Hill (that’s Indiana parent representative Natalie Wolfe on the right in the picture with Congressman Burton). The feedback from the parents and grandparents after their visits was overwhelmingly positive. One grandparent shared that she had no idea how much power she had as one American citizen to make positive changes for children.