Studies have found that the first five years of a child's life are critical to their social and emotional development, as well as their potential to be good students and citizens later in life. All children deserve the opportunity to succeed, which means they all deserve to be cared for in safe, nurturing, educational environments.
Furthermore, parents who can go to work with the peace of mind that their children are in good hands are more productive employees, meaning bigger and steadier profits for their companies. That's why successful companies like Costco and Google provide care for their employees' kids—it's good for their bottom line.
Child-care providers also play a crucial role in driving our economy. Many of them are parents themselves, and the overwhelming majority of these workers—most of whom are women—earn near-poverty wages for one of the most important jobs of all: ensuring the well-being and healthy development of our children. They need to make a living wage so that they, too, can afford to provide for their families. Just as important, their pay should reflect the importance of their work.
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Candidates running for office would be wise to take note of the increasing popularity of affordable child care among voters. A national poll of voters conducted last month by Anzalone Liszt Grove for Make It Work found that 75 percent of voters favor passing laws to ensure families have access to quality, affordable child care alongside other measures like paid family leave and paid sick days, and that a majority of voters are more likely to support a candidate who backs such a plan. It's clear that voters want the government to do right by working families on this issue.
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So this Labor Day, as we celebrate the American worker, let's not forget the parents who work hard to ensure their children have quality care, and the child-care workers who provide that care. We all have a stake in making sure the next generation has a bright future, and it's time to bring quality child care within reach for all parents.
Commentary by Vivien Labaton, co-founder and co-director of MakeIt Work, a campaign to advance economic security for working women, men and families. Follow her on Twitter at @vivienlab.