A group of advocates for high-quality child care and early-childhood education is gathering Tuesday in Washington to discuss strategies for working together to encourage political leaders to support their agenda.
The Grassroots Assembly for Child Care and Early Education will run through Wednesday. Members of 30 organizations are taking part in the event, which includes state and national advocacy groups and unions. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is scheduled to address the group on Wednesday at the Capitol. She’s one of the sponsors of the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would provide child-care assistance to low- and middle-income families with children younger than 13.
“It’s really an opportunity to come together to urge leaders to take action on early-childhood care and education,” said Nina Perez, a senior campaign director on the national early-learning team for MomsRising, a group that advocates for affordable child care. “This is such a critical issue for our community that we need leaders to take a big step in finding solutions and investing in early childhood.”
Perez called the need for affordable, high-quality child care an economic security issue for families.
“We get a multitude of stories from our members about how their child care costs more than their mortgage,” said Perez. “We see this as one of the core issues that we really need to tackle to ensure that families have the best possible outcomes.”
One of the main strategies of MomsRising is to tell personal stories about the impact of unaffordable child care. Moms from all over the country are expected to attend the assembly and share their stories.
Lina Acosta Sandaal is a consultant for the MomsRising early-learning team and the founder of Stop Parenting Alone, a parenting and psychotherapy center in Miami.
“Sometimes we could look at statistics, and numbers and science, but it’s different when a mother tells her story,” said Sandaal. “It’s really, really hard to sit across from somebody when they’re telling you their story and their struggles and not want to help and/or bring change.”
Support for Child-Care Workers
In addition to calling for legislative solutions to the need for affordable child care, MomsRising and the other groups taking part in the assembly also support efforts to improve preparation programs for child-care workers.
“As it pertains to social-emotional development, you can’t just put a child with a loving person who just kind of watches them,” said Sandaal. She argues that child-care workers need better training and higher salaries given the important work they do.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.