The long overdue creation of a national program supporting preschool and childcare has been stalled by the undemocratically outsized voices of U.S. senators representing small, red states, as well as the largest corporations in these states. Meanwhile, Canada – a nation similar to the U.S. in many respects – has committed to spend more than $9 billion a year over the next five years, to bring down the average cost of child care to $10 a day, and create thousands of new classrooms in public and non-profit facilities. Canadians see this effort not only as an investment in the future of their children and a great equalizer, but also as a way to reshape how we think about the future economy.
As we build new child care systems, they must be integrated into planning for climate change mitigation and adaptation. We have yet to investigate what recent climate events, including extreme heat and cold, flooding, drought, smokey air and hurried evacuation from wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes have meant for children and their families, how our emergency management systems should be integrating child care, or how child care could be greener and more resilient in a changing climate.
Again, we can look to Canada for leadership on integrating child care and climate change policy. The latest report by BC Coalition of Child Care Advocates and Early Child Care Educators show at least five ways in which child care and climate change policy can intersect, and how these forward-looking policies can improve health and wellbeing of children, families and workers, while contributing to a pro-climate/environment culture and sustainable clean economy for all.
If the U.S. government can’t enact a strong program for child care and climate change this year, states and localities will have to lead the way. We can’t wait any longer.