Early Education and Child Care: Obama vs. Romney

Before my mother became a single mom, I was fortunate to have experienced a stay-at-home mom before the d-word (divorce) sent my mom back to school. Then we moved to be closer to an entire village of relatives that became my extended parents. My granny’s house was like a 24-hour daycare for her grandkids. My scholarly uncle who lived with gran taught us puzzles, origami, yoga, songs, games, art, and chores.

However, what if there were no resources to help my mom care for her young children? That was the 80s. Now we are in a day and age where many parents are struggling and fewer families can afford to keep a parent at home.  This is the Child Care crisis.

Early Education, whether it begins at home or at a school, has been proven to be critical in the social and academic development of a person, but still Pre-K is not universal in this country. In fact, it is a privilege. This is a topic that Accidental Mama wishes to examine by featuring organizations and programs aiding in Early Education and Child Care.

I have been absorbing the election media around this topic. Here are my notes on how Presidential Candidates Obama and Romney weigh in regarding Early Education and Childcare.


When I started researching this topic I was a little dumbfounded by the victory numbers the Obama camp were proclaiming on the topic of Early Education. However, the fact that Obama talks about it at all is a victory. Romney’s campaign site offers little enlightenment on this topic.

Obama spent $2.1 billion to benefit 61,000 additional children and families, highlighted on the White House website. Does that number seem disproportionate?  The money went to Head Start and Early Head Start. It must be said that Head Start has received criticism from both parties. Some of the feedback suggests that Head Start is providing child care when they are supposed to be providing early education.  Instead of abolishing it the way Romney has suggested Obama tried to create an entity that would focus on evaluating education standards and performance.

Race to the Top took $600  million with a mission to stimulate States to start public Pre-K programs along with challenging schools to raise test scores and programs. FYI: Pennsylvania does not participate in the efforts for Pre-K but was awarded for K-12.

Obama signed the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act that “invested” $2 bil in the Child Care & Development Fund. Among other things it provides assistance for an additional 300,000 children. The money also provided training in the child care work force.

When I was visiting the websites of the above federally funded establishments I was struck with the vagueness of their services. There is a lot of talk about low-income communities, but I think that universal Pre-K should be available to everyone, meaning it should be standard.

It must be said that the average cost of infant care in Pennsylvania is $11,200, with the lowest Mississippi at $4,600 and highest in Massachusetts at $15,000 . The best daycares are limited and expensive. There must be a better way to better serve all our babies.


Romney believes Head Start is a prime example of wasteful spending. Romney has also said he wants to allow each State to reduce Medicaid and food stamps.

He has said in debates and rallies that under Obama 3.5 million women are living in poverty. Slate came out and defended this statement by saying that women are historically hit harder by economic hardship. I will go further and say that as a parent they are also more often the responsible care giver.

Furthermore, 23 percent of American children live in poverty. Of the Pre-K population 12 percent is reported to be reached by Head Start.

While governor in 2006 he vetoed Universal Pre-K saying it was too expensive and had unproven benefits to children.

Bain Capital invested in Bright Horizons that provides Early Education options for their employees. Reiterating the idea that charter schools are better than federally run entities he has stated that Early Education should happen through private organizations or in the home.

Romney is a well-known advocate of two parent households where a mom can stay home. It’s an ideal and not universally attainable, and frankly is very out dated.  I wonder if anyone considers how hard it is for a woman to find work after quitting their job to take care of the children for years.

No matter who is elected tomorrow there will still be a Child Care Crisis, and Early Education should be something that is considered when we are preparing for our future and our present economy.

Stay tuned to “The Village” portion of Accidental Mama that will feature this and other community topics.

~ by Sarah Lolley

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