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Will Candidates Address the Issue of Child Care?

It seems that nearly every week there are more calls for greater investments in early-childhood education at the local, state and national level from a growing range of advocates—educators to law enforcement officials to business people.

Just this week, members of America's Edge, a nonprofit organization of businesspeople promoting investments in children, called for Montana's congressional delegation to continue federal funding for early education and other programs by renewing the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

 Campaign 2012

That's just one of many stories, blogs and opinion pieces that have appeared during the past year promoting the value of early education and the critical role it plays in preparing poor kids for success in school.

Why is it, then, that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats emphasized child care in the party platforms adopted during the recent political conventions? That's the question that David Gray, director of the Workforce and Family Program at the New America Foundation, posed this week in a Huffington Post column.

"At a time when 11 million American children under the age of 5 spend part of their day most weeks in child care, addressing the child care needs of families with [children] would seem an opportunity for both parties," he wrote. "Moreover, given the importance of women voters and the attention both campaigns are paying to them, it is surprising that more attention is not being paid to child care."

At a confab of early childhood advocates and policymakers held in Washington earlier this summer there was much discussion about why politicians in both parties haven't made early learning a prominent issue during campaigns.

Early-education and child care advocates are already worried about the potential impact on government programs for kids if Mitt Romney is elected, largely because U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, his running mate, supports a federal budget plan that would cut deeply into domestic spending.

Gray noted that, with 53 days to the presidential election, there's still time for the two political parties to let us know where they stand on child care.

That's something that working families just might like to know before they head to the ballot box on Nov. 6.

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