My four-and-a half year old granddaughter, in response to a direction from me, told me “You aren’t responsible for me; only my mom and dad are responsible for me”. Setting aside her protest against my tyranny, who is responsible for her? And not just her, but all of America’s children? Who is responsible for their safety, their learning, their social emotional development?
Controversy rages across the U.S. on whether schools should reopen this fall with face-to-face classes. Much of it is political so it is hard to peel back the layers of special interest to get to what is best for our children. What is best for them is complicated by the pandemic, but aren’t we all responsible for their safety, learning, and social emotional development? Why does it seem that local, state and federal policy makers as well as government leaders have made their education and safety a political gambit?
In addition, care of younger children not in school is also facing a crisis. We know many parts of the country are in a ‘child care desert’ now, with options for parents to find quality early childhood programming limited or even non-existent. In fact, did you know that a child care desert is any zip code with more than 30 children under age 5 that contains either zero child care centers or so few centers that there are more than three times as many children as spaces in centers. This is dire. It means that in many places, quality isn’t the issue anymore because there are no places to even measure quality. Where is the responsibility for funding and systemic supports, to provide early care and education to our youngest population?
I believe we
are all responsible for children in this country. It is our responsibility to provide them with safe places to learn, play and grow. It is up to us to talk to local and federal leaders and demand that they put the well-being of children ahead of elections, polls and agendas. My granddaughter misspoke: I am responsible for her. So are you. So are we all.