In the Spring, President Biden released the “American Families Plan” which is a sweeping proposal to invest in children and families over 10 years. A proposal from the Administration is the starting line, not the finish line. It is a statement of values, and it is important. But it is not the final word on any matter – not the details of what is proposed, nor how it is paid for.
The proposal includes major investment in child care. The Administration’s proposal to invest in stabilizing child care after a year of advocacy during the pandemic crisis was approved by Congress in March 2021. We all know stabilizing is a crucial step but also not the bold, better way forward that we must build together. NAFCC will continue to press for a bold way forward that ensures family child care can thrive.
The proposal also calls for universal prekindergarten. At NAFCC, we fully recognize the very real damage that is done to neighborhood-based child care when a rigid preK delivery system does not recognize them. We see real family child care providers who have been told again and again that they don’t count. We also feel the pain of that judgement.
In this case, it is really valuable to see the Administration’s intent, as stated during the campaign and in campaign-time documents: “So parents and guardians can choose what works for them, Biden will partner with states to provide a mixed delivery system that includes public school systems, child care centers and family child care providers, and Head Start.”
The intent is to see you and value you. Will decision-makers get it right? That is up to us, collectively. NAFCC is in position to shape the crucial details. But we need to do that strategically, and together.
And what would it mean, to “get it right”? We will be informed by family child care educators in states like Indiana, Oregon, Florida, Arkansas, and localities like Philadelphia, Pa. and Fairfax County, Va. – all places that invest preK dollars in family child care settings. We will also be informed by the experiences of being left out. We will be informed by the experiences of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, the experience of mixed ages, and the experience of the home setting.
It is critically important that we communicate as a team. We must be unified in our message. The pain and worry are real, and valid. We will channel our energy into helping decision-makers see that healthy child development happens in the context of relationships with trusted adults. Healthy child development happens with family child care. We’ve always known this. The pandemic made this real for countless others too. We will hold them to it.
The message: Learning happens wherever children are. Learning happens in family child care. We’re advocating for smart policies that help family child care to thrive.
- Investment in the early childhood workforce – healthy and well, diverse and generously compensated
- Investments that are equitably distributed
- Investments where children are. Child care is early learning and early learning is child care.