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April 15, 2012 10:00 AM What Would it Take to Get a Real Child Care Conversation in this Country?

By Sara Mead

One final thought about Mitt Romney and the war on most moms: In the same video clip referenced below, Romney also brags about increasing spending on child care assistance to help these moms of 2-year-olds go back to work. But we know that states have been cutting childcare assistance, thousands of families have lost services or been placed on waitlists, and Romney’s own budget proposals, by squeezing the federal domestic funds that are the major source of childcare subsidies, would further worsen the problem.

And I’m somehow skeptical that expanding access to childcare for working families is going to play a prominent (or any) role in Romney’s agenda—no matter how much he may want low-income moms to experience the “dignity of work.” Yet, as mind-boggling and frustrating as this ridiculous debate over the past week has been, if it yields just a little bit, just a smidge, of real national attention and better conversation about the challenges facing “working families” (whether both or either parents work), childcare, and how we as a society (not just government and policy) do and do not support families and kids, that would be completely worthwhile. I realize that’s probably a completely insane hope, but there’s something about a beautiful spring morning in D.C. that can make you think the craziest things are possible.

It’s worth remembering, of course, that, during the Nixon administration, the United States came thisclose to having a national childcare policy that would have given working families access to high-quality, developmental childcare. In the late 1960s, Nixon and his administration supported an expanded federal role in childcare, citing both the educational needs of young children and a growing demand from working mothers. But by 1971, when Congress passed the Comprehensive Child Development Act, Nixon, eager to solidify connections with conservative Christian voters who had contributed to his 1968 victory, vetoed it. Nixon’s veto message, written by Pat Buchanan, bemoaned the “family-weakening implications” of a “communal approach to child-rearing,” setting a tone that continues—despite the evidence—to characterize debate about childcare and the family today, as can be seen in this week’s hullabaloo over Ann Romney and working moms.

Comments

  • berttheclock on April 15, 2012 10:13 AM:

    The biggest problem with Block Grants is they keep ending up used on the wrong blocks. Most end up being slush funds for ALEC legislators.

  • sick -n-effin-tired on April 15, 2012 10:51 AM:

    Explain to me again how a "working" mom who is say making $12.00 an hour (generous in these Walmart times) pays for child care food and rent if she is the sole breadwinner.
    I remember a story from years ago when one of the Tee Vee magazines did a piece wherein they proved to a woman, in a 2 income family, that by the time she paid for gas and child care her net was even or less working 40 hrs a week. The woman had been doing this for years and just broke down and cried .
    Not many choices for those "working moms"

    And yet they should also pay for birth control if they choose not to have children .

  • MikeBoyScout on April 15, 2012 10:53 AM:

    The Comprehensive Childcare Act of 1971 was sponsored and led through the US Senate by Walter Mondale.

  • berttheclock on April 15, 2012 10:56 AM:

    Poverty in the heavily Mormon state of Utah has become so severe, a very conservative Republican legislator has introduced and received Progressive support for a tracking measure of poverty within the state. He is, also, a Bishop and his ward has been overwhelmed with requests for aid due to the recession. In Utah, the TANF program has been cut to just 36 months. They do not follow the Federal 60 month program. This means all lifetime support of needy families stops after 36 months has been completed. Then, those families are on their own. Added by Utah was a drug testing measure as well. In 2010, there were 135,565 children living below the poverty level. That reads better than just posting 16%. Utah is, also, a state which taxes groceries. I have heard somewhere poor people do require groceries on occasion. Oh, the reason for those taxes? When, an initiative tried to overturn that tax, buses in Salt Lake City were ladened with posters saying that tax goes to needed educational funds.

  • sick -n-effin-tired on April 15, 2012 11:37 AM:

    berttheclock And we don't need to point out it is red states that suck on the federal titty more than blue states

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/08/09/red-state-welfare-queens/

  • Kerry on April 15, 2012 12:56 PM:

    Single working moms do have a hard time finding the money to pay for it all. I was lucky and had a really good job when my husband died leaving me with a 3 year old. Then he was diagnosed on the Autism spectrum. There isn't enough money in ANY job to find day care for a special needs kid when you are a single mom who cannot afford not to work. There is no such thing as day care for special needs kids and it only gets worse as they get older.

  • CynicalSam on April 15, 2012 6:42 PM:

    Making babies and bringing them up isn't a "job."

    It's called "normal life."

    Don't want to take care of them? Do what I did: don't make them.

    Simple, really.

  • anon's honey on April 15, 2012 7:23 PM:

    I don't trust block grants because Republican Governors do not care and will not implement.
    For example--would you ever trust Scott Walker?


    http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/84696/states-health-care-obama-governors?page=0,1

  • Doug on April 15, 2012 7:25 PM:

    Why is it conservatives (?) bemoan "communal" child raising, yet laud "small town" values, one of which is looking out for friends and neighbora AND their children? And, yes, sometimes money, or services, DO exchange hands.

    re Cynical Sam: Holding down a position that pays you money for services provided is a job. So is doing labor, of ANY sort, including that done around the home; ie: working in the yard, "I can't go, I've got a lot of houseWORK to do", etc. Both are completely "normal" usages of the word "job".
    Thus, working, whether "paid" or not is normal. And when one works, one is doing a job.
    By the way, thanks for NOT reproducing.

  • Lex on April 15, 2012 8:20 PM:

    I'm just waiting for the GOP to notice that Mitt has proposed repealing welfare reform.

  • anon's honey on April 15, 2012 8:58 PM:

    Mitt just exudes insincerity and cannot win.
    He'll spend Ann's retirement dollars telling citizens not to vote for Barack Obama again, with few specifics for the discerning mind because he is false and disingenuous. i don't think he knows what he believes any more. And to go the the NRA convention just after the tragic death of Trayvon Martin shows how tone deaf he really is.

  • CynicalSam on April 15, 2012 10:03 PM:

    @Doug: By the way, thanks for NOT reproducing.

    The pleasure is all mine.

    Every child-free minute of it.

    Now if the rest of you clowns would knock it off, the balance of the living organisms on this planet would thank you very much.

  • Texas Aggie on April 16, 2012 12:56 AM:

    For you guys who don't like block funds, how do you expect dingbats like Gov. Goodhair to balance his budget without misappropriating federal money? You saw what happened this past year when the feds shut down that option. He had to reduce education spending by 10% putting a whole bunch of schools in a world of hurt. So it's all Obama's fault for not giving Goodhair a bunch of money to play with however he wanted.

  • blondehawaiian on April 16, 2012 11:06 AM:

    I love reading these posts! Does anyone really believe that the government cares about you? They don't! EVERYTHING, everything, if you follow it down the line, boils down to money. I am glad that I am older, as I will not have to watch all that is going to happen to the younger generation. Lately, I given some thought as to whether or not I want to stay in my country of birth. Isn't that pathetic???