More Questions Than Answers
Blog by Sarah Read founder of Columbia Parents for Public Schools
Two weeks ago CPPS facilitated the community dialogue following the film “Once Upon A Time, When Childcare for All Wasn’t Just A Fairy Tale, sponsored by the Cradle to Career Alliance. The film centered around President Nixon’s veto of the Comprehensive Child Development Act in 1971, and how the bipartisan support for childcare evaporated as partisanship over “family values” rose to the fore. It also highlighted the high quality childcare programs we currently provide for military families and asked how other families might benefit by access to such programs.
Many in attendance were unaware of this history, and were surprised by other facts shared, including that dog kennels are in some places more regulated than child care, and that day care workers can in other places earn less that parking lot attendants. You can download a discussion guide and transcript of the film here.
As one politician stated in the film, “fear in politics often trumps hope”. Audience members observed that when this occurs, we often lose touch with what the research says, fall into “us v. them” thinking, and fail to work together to find the solutions that could help us move forward together in ways that could benefit us all.
Audience members also discussed what quality child-centered care can look like, referring to our school district’s Title 1 preschool programs, and asked why we as the “richest country in the world” can invest in banks, the auto industry, and other commercial venues, but dismiss similar investments for families and kids as unaffordable, even as the research demonstrates that the returns on such investments are significant (one participants cited a statistic of 700% in returns for each dollar invested in early childcare) and sustainable. One participant wrote:
Our way of life is reliant on government, like it or not; some provision needs to be made.
Others observed that change never happens overnight, — that it is incremental change that drives larger change –, that even when change occurs little progress is often made in equity for minority communities, and that for the political system to work for good, that good needs to intersect with more opportunistic benefits for one or more interest groups. Participants also expressed hope that as more families are in need of quality care, and more of our children fall into poverty, the government will to invest in quality child care, particularly for our kids in greatest need.
One point noted in the film, which was echoed in the audience discussion, was that how we talk about an issue has a significant effect on the way we work together and what we as a community are willing to support. The Raising of America website contains tips and an excellent “action toolkit” that you can download. These resources will help you think about what words to use if you want to encourage greater investment in our kids, and to address the arguments that have prevented that investment in the past.