Why I’m fighting for child care reform
Courier Post Opinion Editorial.
By Donald Norcross
As a single dad racing to my construction job by 7 a.m., I struggled to find affordable, quality daycare for my son. That was around 40 years ago, and since then, I’ve heard many similar stories from hardworking men and women.
Studies have found that the first five years of a child’s life are critical in setting them up for success, which makes the selection of daycare an important choice. But too many parents are forced to choose affordable care over quality care – especially parents who work outside the “9-to-5” workday.
The average cost for child care in New Jersey is $9,546 per year for just one child, according to the Economic Policy Institute. That’s a large chunk of most workers’ annual salary. In fact, a typical family with two children in our state pays close to 24% of their income on child care – for low-wage working families, it’s over 55%. That makes it unaffordable to work! That’s not just a personal hardship, but an economic crisis for thousands of families, and we must address it immediately.
In Congress, I’m fighting for ways we can help provide safe, nurturing learning environments for more children. The Child Care for Working Families Act offers a comprehensive set of initiatives to make child care affordable and flexible nationwide. If this bill passed, parents would be able to choose what works best for their family – whether it’s center-based care, home-based care, or provided by family and friends.
The plan would ensure child care choices never deter people from carrying a full-time job by capping out-of-pocket child care expenses at 7% of a family’s income. It would also expand care options and provide grants to give more families access to quality care. Plus, with strong safety and health standards, assistance for children with disabilities and resources to expand universal preschool programs, this legislative solution sets up our children for success.
I recently met a young mother from Runnemede who attended a town hall and asked how we can get more top-quality child care professionals in our area given high turnover rates in the industry. By investing in higher compensation and training opportunities, the Child Care for Working Families Act would help attract and retain a talented, dedicated and well-trained workforce of caregivers.
This comprehensive plan is strongly supported by advocates for quality, affordable childcare. So why isn’t Congress taking action to help working families? That answer lies in the priorities of President Donald Trump and his accomplices. Instead of focusing on kids and care, they passed an expensive tax scam that benefits their billionaire backers at the expense of hardworking New Jersey families. Now they want to take back $7 billion from CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Plan. Clearly children aren’t their priority.
The Trump crowd is more into coddling their corporate cronies than caring about our kids. But that doesn’t mean we should stop caring. It means we should elect candidates who will stand up for our kids instead of throwing them under the bus. Part of the American Dream is providing your children with a better life than you had, and child care reforms will give millions of families a better shot at achieving the dream. Let's demand leaders who understand that.