“I believe getting off to a good start should be our children’s birthright, part of the basic bargain that we have with each other as a nation. Every child should have the tools and the skills to thrive in tomorrow’s economy, especially those kids from our most vulnerable and at-risk communities.” – Hillary Clinton, June 15, 2015
If there is one thing that Hillary Clinton is best known for it is being an advocate for women, children, and families worldwide. She has devoted much time, energy and financial resources to this end for all of her adult life. Events of recent weeks have brought our educational system to the forefront of my mind, so today I address her proposals for Early Childhood Education (#13) from Ms. Clinton’s campaign platform (see list in first post of series). I initially considered combining this one with her plans for the K-12 system, #3 on the list, but quickly realized that I could not do justice to either in that manner, so I will cover K-12 next. As we saw in a recent post by Hugh Curtler , one big part of the problem in this country today is the lack of a Liberal Arts agenda in colleges and universities. But education starts long before a young person enters those hallowed halls. In truth, education starts with a child’s first breath and continues until the last, if we are lucky. It would seem that if we want our young people entering college to get the most of their college education, they must be well-prepared to do so. And that preparation begins with the first, formative years of a child’s life.
I was very fortunate when my children were little and needed daycare, because there were always friends and family members willing to pitch in and help. One neighbor even came and cleaned my house every Friday for only $20! But most families today do not have such luxuries and in families where both parents are employed, child care can eat up substantial portions of the family income. The average cost of center-based daycare in the United States is $11,666 per year ($972 a month), but prices range from $3,582 to $18,773 a year ($300 to $1,564 monthly), according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).
Ms. Clinton’s plan for early childhood education includes the following:
- Make preschool universal for every 4-year-old in America.
- Significantly increase child care investments so that no family in America has to pay more than 10 percent of its income to afford high-quality child care.
- Improve the quality of child care and early learning by giving a RAISE to America’s child care workforce. 1
- Double our investment in Early Head Start and the Early Head Start–Child Care Partnership program.
- Expand access to evidence-based home visiting programs.
- Award scholarships of up to $1,500 per year to help as many as 1 million student parents afford high-quality child care.
- Increase access to high-quality child care on college campuses by serving an additional 250,000 children.
For more comprehensive information about Ms. Clinton’s plan for early childhood education, check out her fact sheet.
I would argue that in this area, Ms. Clinton is more qualified than anyone, not just her current opponent, to know what is needed and push for the changes to meet those needs. “While at Yale Law School, she added an extra year to her studies to take courses in child development. As a young attorney, she worked for the Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy group. As first lady of Arkansas, she introduced the state to home visiting, a service for expectant and new mothers that has been shown to help women living in poverty raise healthier, more academically prepared kids. And as the nation’s first lady, Clinton advocated for the passage of the 1997 State Child Health Insurance Program, which now covers about 8 million children, and she pushed for the creation of Early Head Start, a federally funded care and education program for infants and toddlers living in poverty. She also wrote her first book, It Takes a Village, about the importance of investing in young children. In all her campaigns—from her 2000 Senate campaign to the current presidential race—Clinton has made paid parental leave and universal preschool key elements of her policy proposals.” – Lillian Mongeau, The Atlantic, 06 September 2016 Link to article
Briefly, let us take a look, for comparison purposes, at what Ms. Clinton’s opponent plans to do in the area of early childhood education. This is one of only nine (recently increased from seven) areas that are addressed on the Trump campaign website, though it is far too well-articulated to have been written by Trump. The plan includes five major points:
- Help every family with the costs of childcare and eldercare.
- Empower families to choose the care that is right for their family.
- Create a new, dynamic market for family-based and community-based solutions.
- Incentivize employers to provide childcare at the workplace.
- Provide 6 weeks of paid leave to new mothers before returning to work.
There are details for how he plans to achieve these goals, and because of the wordiness, I cannot print them in this post, but if interested, you can check it out here.
One analysis of Trump’s proposal calls it ‘smoke and mirrors’ (aren’t most of his proposals?) and claims it will benefit the wealthy far more than the working class. Check that out here.
Ms. Clinton’s plan combines a number of common sense proposals designed to assist parents who are employed ensure that their children will be well cared for without having to take a second mortgage to pay for it. I have a friend who actually had to quit her job because her daycare costs for two children exceeded her net pay each week. Next up … Ms. Clinton’s plans for K-12 education reform, a highly complex and controversial topic! So stay tuned!
1 The average hourly pay for daycare teachers is around $10.50 per hour, but will vary by experience and location. For all child care positions (except supervisor positions) the average is around $11.30 per hour. Wages will typically be higher for full-time employees and teachers with college degrees.