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3 Top Takeaways from the Conversation: The Impact of Politics on Early Childhood in 2021

Because we can’t take our Early Learning Nation Studio on the road during this time, stay tuned as ELN recaps Top Takeaways from important conversations, town halls, webinars and virtual events from the Early Learning field. Read them all and join the conversation! And visit our Early Learning Nation channel on YouTube for interviews with leaders from education, child development, business, politics and more.


On December 8, The Hunt Institute hosted a conversation to discuss the results of the 2020 election in terms of its likely impact on policies and investments affecting young children in 2021 and beyond. Featured on the panel were Katie Hamm (Center for American Progress), Cemeré James (National Black Child Development Institute, NBCDI) and Sarah Rittling (First Five Years Fund).

The Hunt Institute’s President & CEO Javaid Siddiqi welcomed the audience, then handed it off to Dan Wuori, director of Early Learning, to moderate. Here are our top three takeaways from the event.

1. Early child care and education get bipartisan support. Many things are dividing us as a country, but there’s an opportunity for unity when it comes to early care and learning. Sarah Rittling, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, said, “Voters don’t necessarily go to the polls because of where candidates are on child care or early childhood education, but they certainly want a better tomorrow for their children.”

According to the First Five Year Fund’s 2020 national bipartisan voter polling results,

  • Over half of respondents believe that federal funding for quality early education from birth to age five—including child care and preschool—should be increased.
  • 77% agreed that the care and education of children from birth through five is a public good.
  • 83% of voters in key electoral battleground states say that candidates for office, including for President, should have plans and policies to help working parents afford high-quality child care.

👉 Read more: What Political Newcomers Need to Know

2. Accountability and equity are essential. Future administrations have a lot of work to do to deliver on these unifying ideals, especially since the shock of COVID-19 on our early childhood systems will cause long-term effects. “We didn’t have enough child care in this county to begin with,” Katie Hamm, vice president of the Center for American Progress, said. “If we think we can recover, vaccine or no vaccine, without saving the child care industry, we have another thing coming.”

However, the panelists expressed hope for a better future for all children if we use this moment as an opportunity for real change. Cemeré James, interim president and CEO at the National Black Child Development Institute, said, “There is a unifying conversation around young children; there’s also a need to challenge the way we talk about it so that we weave equity into the conversation much more comprehensively.”

3. Biden’s education plan is ambitious. The incoming administration shows signs of being prepared to get the country back on track. “There are many policies that the Trump administration put forward and implemented that were really harmful to young children, especially children of immigrants and Black children,” Hamm said. “I think the incoming administration has proposed the most ambitious agenda for young children that we’ve ever seen.” The comprehensive education agenda proposes improvements such as expansions in home visiting, child care, health care support for young children, an increase in wages for child care providers and more. “We’re talking huge systematic, comprehensive reform for zero to five child care.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Swartz writes for and about nonprofit organizations. He lives in Takoma Park, MD, with his wife and two children.

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