Parents from across the country converged on Capitol Hill March 9-13, 2010, as part of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies’ (NACCRRA) National Policy Symposium. At the Symposium, parents learned about national child care issues, networked with other parents and child care professionals, and met with their Members of Congress to share their child care concerns and advocate for more affordable, high-quality child care for all parents.
“We are extremely pleased to be able to have parents attend NACCRRA’s Policy Symposium,” said Linda K. Smith, Executive Director of NACCRRA. “By attending the Symposium and voicing their child care concerns to policymakers, they are primed to effect change and improve the quality of care that all of America’s children receive.”
Sixteen parents were chosen to participate in NACCRRA’s National Policy Symposium and serve as the collective voice of the millions of parents with children in child care. State Networks and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) chose local parents whose personal child care stories were representative of the experiences many parents face today. From an inability to afford the high cost of care to a lack of quality child care options, which forces them to use sub par care, their stories depict the current state of child care in America.
“These parents are just a few of the millions of parents across the nation faced with limited choices when it comes to child care,” said Smith. “High-quality child care is vital to the healthy development of the children in that care. Without it, we put the health, safety and well-being of children at risk. It is our hope that through these parents, we can finally get this message across to policymakers to improve the quality and affordability of care for our nation’s children.
Today, over 11 million children under age 5 are in some type of child care arrangement every week while their parents work. On average, children of working mothers spend 36 hours every week in child care. Studies repeatedly have shown that high-quality child care - care that provides a loving, safe, stable and age-appropriate stimulating environment - helps children enter school ready to learn. Yet, less than 10 percent of the nation’s child care is of high-quality.
NACCRRA’s National Policy Symposium seeks to raise the visibility of child care issues, such as the lack of quality, and advocate for improved conditions. It features numerous sessions on the latest policy, research and practice developments in child care and CCR&R. The Symposium also offers a forum for policy analysis and discussion, examination of latest research, high-quality training, peer networking, visits to legislators and resources dissemination for about 600 attendees from across the country.
The Parents@Symposium program is one of the newest elements of NACCRRA’s National Policy Symposium designed to ensure that policymakers hear directly from parents. The program includes a series of highly interactive sessions designed specifically to prepare parents to meet with their representatives in Congress and the media.