Child Care Breaks Through in First Debate of 2020

If you were watching last night’s presidential debate, you got to see—for the first time—a robust, informed, and thoughtful conversation about child care and early education. Over the course of several minutes, debate moderator Brianne Pfannenstiel pressed the candidates to share their plans to address the childcare crisis facing families in Iowa and across the country.

We are celebrating, not only because we succeeded in elevating the issue of child care to the national debate stage, but because we are incredibly proud of the huge behind-the-scenes, multi-organization effort it took to make that happen. For the past year, children’s advocates across Iowa, spearheaded by Caucus for Kids campaign, have been working on the ground and online to demand that candidates and the media prioritize issues affecting children and families.

Every Child Matters president Brian Ahlberg attended the presidential primary debate in Des Moines; watch his message to moderators and candidates right before the debate got underway!

The Caucus for Kids campaign has mobilized volunteers to hit the campaign trail and speak directly with candidates about children’s issues. It was Tiffany, a Caucus for Kids advocate and volunteer with Save the Children Action Network, who submitted the question about childcare challenges facing Iowa families. Throughout 2019, our advocates attended numerous candidate events, asking candidates how they will address issues affecting children and families. We have organized Facebook Live Candidate Conversations—in-depth sit-down meetings between candidates and Caucus for Kids advocates—with 10 different presidential candidates. Because of all this outreach and engagement, we were confident that when a childcare question eventually was asked, candidates would be prepared to have a substantive, policy-focused discussion. And they did!

We’ve also been organizing online with state and national partners to push debate moderators to ask about child care and other issues affecting children and families. We have co-hosted a #WeCareDebate watch party on Twitter for all seven primary debates so far, using social media to connect a community of people who all want to see discussion of children’s issues on the debate stage. And, when it finally happened, that online community was ready to celebrate and lift up the candidate’s responses.

Hearing a debate moderator and candidates, on national television, talk knowledgeably and passionately about the childcare challenges facing Iowa families, was a truly rewarding moment and the culmination of months and years of hard work. So please join us in celebrating this great success, and let’s keep working to ensure that children’s issues remain a central focus throughout the 2020 election!