In her NY Times column yesterday, Gail Collins points out that except for a content-free photo-op by Hillary Clinton, exactly none of the presidential candidates of either party will talk about child care in the US. Instead, they talk around the issues facing working parents--jobs, taxes, guns--without even so much as a feeble "election-year pandering" about child care.
But yet, I can't even imagine how child care would take shape as a legitimate political issue, or what solutions, policy- culture- or corporate-wise would come of it. And frankly, Collins' article doesn't make it any clearer for me.
She points out the unregulated, underpaid injustice that is the daycare industry, where usually uncertified, possibly unqualified workers get minimum wage for stressful, undervalued work. Yet on its own, certification and increased pay will only increase the cost to parents, and put professional child care further out of reach of more people.
God bless the people who we pay to take care of our kids all day, but I'm afraid most Americans really don't think or care about them too much. The lever for making changes in the child care world is not the workers represented by NACCRA, the child care industry association; it's parents themselves.
Is there no child care debate because parents just don't feel any child care pain, whether financial, professional, time- or child benefit-related?
Or do they just not see the government as a credible or relevant force for improving child care?
Or is it ignorance or apathy about the issue and the pain and impact it has on someone besides themselves?
I honestly don't know, but I think it's a combination of the latter two, and moping about the just-increased minimum wage won't change anything anytime soon.