Tahlequah Daily Press

Get the scoop!

August 1, 2012

Campaign banter keeps quiet on child care

We're still waiting.

 Why can we talk about roof dogs, the kiss-cam and dressage horses during election season, but not about something that affects more than 6 million American toddlers and infants every day?

  I'm still waiting for someone to talk about child care. It's a mess. And whether you're a parent doing the 15-dollar-dash to get to day care before the clock goes into late-fee land or the childless worker sick of seeing your colleague run out the door every day at 5, it affects you.

 Our nation takes care of its youngest citizens through a mishmash of neighborhood babysitters, high-paid nannies, off-the-grid, sketchy but affordable centers, homemade day cares run out of someone's basement and the rare and difficult-to-afford corporate center that works well for the tiny population that can get in. There are federal subsidies, state aid and tax credits, but no comprehensive system.

   Just take a look at the latest mess in Virginia, where state regulations regarding the size of in-home day cares are different from county rules and, because someone just figured this out, hundreds if not thousands of families might see their children kicked out of places that work well for them.

   This is the kind of stuff that craters a family's work schedule and finances, making it impossible for them to work and forcing some onto public assistance.

   The funny thing about this?

    We actually did this right. Once.

    During World War II, when the country needed Rosie the Riveter to keep the war effort going, the United States passed the Lanham Act in 1941, which, among other things, provided more than 2,500 quality, education-based day-care centers that eventually cared for more than 1.5 million children across the country.

   Yes!

   Women who went to work in factories dropped off their kids for about 50 cents a day. Kids got snacks, hot lunch, reading, painting and play. Some of the centers even sent the kids home with a foil-wrapped, roasted chicken, so Mom didn't have any hot-stove time after a tough day at work.

    Sounds like Sweden or something, right?

    "We got it right, for the most part. Unfortunately, it was during World War II, during an emergency, as part of a war effort, and it was very clear that it was only for the war that this would happen,

  " said Natalie Fousekis, a history professor at California State University at Fullerton who wrote a book on the wartime day cares. They were largely shut down right after the war ended.

   And we haven't had a meaningful national discussion about child care since.

  Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last year that if she ever became speaker of the House again, one of her goals would be to do "for child care what we did for health-care reform."

  "One of the great pieces of unfinished business is high-quality child care; I wonder why we just can't do that,'' Pelosi said.

    Critics accused Pelosi of wanting to warehouse children in government facilities, then force parents to go to work.

   Give me a break.

    Earlier this year, Mitt Romney said he wants young mothers who are on government assistance to get jobs for "the dignity of work." The work requirement is something he signed into law in Massachusetts.

  And most of those women want to work, for sure. Anyone who thinks raising a family on public assistance is easy hasn't seen it up close.

  But because it's so hard to get quality child care that's affordable, it becomes a non-starter for many folks.

   President Barack Obama has been no better on the issue. He speaks about early-childhood education and helping working families, but somehow, the term "child care" doesn't come up.

  Maybe it's because it is still such an explosive and divisive issue. When you mention child care, you hit that working mom third rail again. (See Marrisa Mayer andAnne Marie Slaughter, if you need a reminder of that debate.)

   Women, who have been making huge gains in the workforce during the past four decades, are now the majority of the nation's workforce and the primary breadwinners in one out of five American households.

  All of this has been achieved despite the lack of a comprehensive child-care system. The only recent nod to child care in the federal conversation is the Infant and Toddler Quality Improvement Act, introduced last month by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). That bill calls for more funds for state and local child-care programs, plus increased oversight regulations.

  It's a start, but really all it does is add some extra stitching to the patchwork we're already struggling to keep together. And honestly, do you want Al Franken to be the only one with the guts to push for solutions?

 It's time for everyone - especially women - to drop the squeamish act over the child-care conversation. It's too essential to our lives and the country's future.

 Let's start talking - and demanding that our political leaders start talking, too.

 

1
Text Only
Get the scoop!
  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 18, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

    The Masters lumbered on last week without two of pro golf's biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and fans changed the channel. The PGA needs someone with star power if it's going to lure people back to the game.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 18, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Warren's populist pitch on student loans is off key

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren's populist rhetoric pumps up students about their loan burdens, but she conveniently neglects to mention the real problem - the exorbitant cost of college - much less how she's benefitted from those high prices.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 18, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Stocks