Since the Child Care NEXT initiative cohort was announced in the summer of 2021, state coalitions have been making foundational progress on their coalitions and transformation plans. This work is about building a large, durable constituency for child care in a state, so much of the early work is on building a coalition infrastructure that aligns with the core principles and collective power milestones of the initiative.
As state teams convened for a cohort gathering and workshop this spring, their clear visions for transformative change had come into focus.
Child Care NEXT asked coalitions to develop a long-term, ambitious vision for change in their states’ child care systems and use that “North Star” to anchor their advocacy, rather than setting incremental annual goals that are constrained by current political and fiscal realities. While there is some variation among the six states, across the coalitions, their visions include the following elements:
- Child care that is universally accessible and affordable to families.
- A diverse workforce that is compensated equitably and effectively serves children and families.
- A system that is supported by sustainable and robust public funding.
With a coalition of diverse grassroots leaders, parents, and educators at the center, New York’s Empire State Campaign for Child Care, for example, is working toward a completely reimagined child care system where public funding provides all families access to quality and culturally responsive care, regardless of income, immigration status, and work requirements.
Early childhood educators and providers will be paid equitably and adequately, on par with their public school counterparts. By communicating this vision publicly and loudly, the campaign is changing the narrative about child care and the scale of investments needed.
As the president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State co-wrote in an op-ed:
“Our elected officials must make the clear commitment to fund universal child care through the general fund. Child care needs to be viewed in the same way as education. It should simply be a general fund obligation as part of an overall education budget.”
The state’s second iteration of the Governor’s Child Care Availability Task Force is charged with developing a framework for a phased-in rollout of universal child care.
All six Child Care NEXT state coalitions are turning their collective visions into a clear, bold policy goal that has been collectively developed and will be collectively pursued.