Loading

2020 Election Toolkit for Voters

Early learning and care has been a major issue in the leadup to the 2020 election. From the debate stage to party conventions, voters, candidates, and elected officials have elevated the issue frequently on the campaign trail. But in recent months, we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic push America's early learning and care system to the brink of collapse.

During the election, candidates want to hear from voters like you. Now more than ever before, it's critical to make your voice heard so that candidates know just how important it is to support high-quality early learning and care not only during the election, but once they take office.

This toolkit provides resources you can use to contact candidates, get engaged, and raise awareness on social media.

1. Phone Calls

How to Make an Impactful Phone Call

  • Personalize: Is there a quick story you can tell that explains why you want your candidate or member of Congress to support early learning and care? Feel free to personalize the script below.
  • Make It Memorable: Candidates and campaign staff receive many calls each day. Do what you can to make your call more conversational and memorable.
  • Call to Action: Make sure the candidate or staffer knows that they need to support early learning and care.

Phone Call Script

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I live in [CANDIDATE]'s [DISTRICT/STATE]. I'm calling to ask that you make child care and early learning a top priority on the campaign trail and after you're elected. Our working families and our economy depend on it.

As you know, COVID-19 has created an acute child care crisis for American families, providers, and businesses. Across the country, 40% of child care providers say they will close permanently without relief.

Economic recovery is not possible without a strong child care system. Since May, about 7 million people each week have not worked because they didn't have child care. Even prior to the pandemic, approximately half of Americans lived in a child care desert.

That's why I'm asking [CANDIDATE/MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to call for immediate investments that will stabilize the child care industry and support working families. After election day, I hope you continue to support children and working families by working to expand access to affordable, high-quality early learning and care.

Personalize: Is there a quick story you can tell that explains why you want your member of Congress to support child care? Feel free to personalize the script below.

2. Emails

Tips for Drafting an Impactful Email

  • Personalize: Insert a personal story in the below script that explains why you want the candidate or member to support early learning and care.
  • Make It Memorable: Candidates and campaign staff receive hundreds of emails every day. Do what you can to make your email memorable.
  • Call to Action: Make sure the candidate or staffer knows that they need to support early learning and care.
  • Follow Up: Feel free to follow up on your email if you don't receive a response.

Sample Email

Subject: Prioritize early learning and care on the campaign trail and beyond

Dear [NAME OF CANDIDATE/MEMBER OF CONGRESS],

I Iive in [CANDIDATE/MEMBER OF CONGRESS]'s [DISTRICT/STATE], and I'm writing to encourage you to make early learning and care a top priority on the campaign trail and after you're elected. Our working families and our economy depend on your support.

As you know, COVID-19 has created an acute child care crisis for American families, providers, and businesses. Across the country, 40% of child care providers say they will close permanently without relief. Child care providers who have been able to remain open or are now reopening will have to operate on financial losses for months. Economic recovery is not possible without a strong child care system. Since May, about 7 million people each week have not worked because they didn't have child care.

That's why it's so important to create a child care system in America that works for all families and communities so that parents can work and all children—regardless of their backgrounds—can get a strong start in life. The COVID-19 pandemic has opened voters' eyes to the importance of child care for families and the economy. A new national poll found that 84 percent of voters across party lines say affordable child care for families with young children is an essential service—just like health care and education. And 79 percent of voters—and 82 percent of women—say the COVID crisis has shown how essential it is to build a child care system that makes care available and affordable to all families who need it.

Voters like myself are counting on you to deliver results for America’s children and families. You can help the nation's early learning and care system and all the educators, providers, parents, and businesses who depend on it by calling for immediate investments that will stabilize the child care industry. After election day, I hope you continue to support children and working families by working to expand access to affordable, high-quality early learning and care.

Thank you,

[NAME]

3. Letters to the Editor

Sample Draft

As election day draws closer, candidates are working to demonstrate that they have the leadership needed to heal our economy and get America back to work. The health and economic crisis that we collectively face has made it abundantly clear that our communities, our economy, and working families like mine depend on a strong child care system to succeed.

As a [PARENT/PROVIDER/BUSINESS LEADER], I have seen firsthand the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to the child care system. Across the country, 40% of child care providers say they will close permanently without relief. Voters like myself want to see action on child care. A new national poll found that 84 percent of voters across party lines say affordable child care for families with young children is an essential service—just like health care and education.

That's why it's so important to create a child care system in America that works for all families and communities so that parents can work and all children can get a strong start in life. An investment in high-quality early learning and care is not only an investment in our economic prosperity today, it also supports the workforce of tomorrow.

I urge [CANDIDATE/MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to support children and families by working to expand access to affordable, high-quality early learning and care as they continue on the campaign trail. This includes calling for immediate, dedicated relief to stabilize the child care industry and support working families.

[NAME, TITLE, CITY]

4. Questions to Ask in a Candidate Forum

The below questions offer a guide for how to ask about early learning and care in a candidate forum online or in person. Feel free to ask questions that are more specific to your situation as a provider, parent, or employer.

  • How do you plan to support child care providers so they can make it through the COVID-19 crisis and continue supporting working families?
  • Do you think it's important to ensure that all families who need it can access affordable, high-quality child care?
  • Will you reach across the aisle to work with other lawmakers on meaningful solutions for young children and families?
  • Do you believe that child care for families with young children is an essential service?
  • How do you plan to increase access for affordable, high-quality early learning and care in [STATE/DISTRICT]?
  • A recent national poll finds that two in five voters are more likely to support their member of Congress if they support funding for early education. Do you support increasing funding for early learning and care?

5. Social Media Posts

Feel free to use these social media post templates or add a personal touch. Make sure to tag candidates or your member of Congress on Facebook or Twitter.

Sample Posts

6. Social Media Graphics

To download, right click on the image and click "Save Image As"
To download, right click on the image and click "Save Image As"
To download, right click on the image and click "Save Image As"
To download, right click on the image and click "Save Image As"
To download, right click on the image and click "Save Image As"

7. Print Materials to Give Candidates at Events

Feel free to use the following resources for events or meetings with candidates or lawmakers.

8. 2020 National Poll Fact Sheet

The Coronavirus pandemic has opened voters' eyes to the importance of child care for families—and the economy. Now voters are ready for sweeping federal action.

The results of a new national poll from the First Five Years Fund reveal the clear impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on voters' views of America's child care system—and the need for a significant public investment in meaningful child care policy solutions for working families and providers. No longer can lawmakers and candidates for office view child care as a "nice-to-have" service, when voters now clearly see it as something that is essential for children, families, and America's economy.

Regardless of party, voters overwhelmingly say high-quality, affordable child care for families with young children is an essential service—just like healthcare and education.

A majority of voters—particularly women—say the COVID crisis has shown us how essential it is that we build a child care system that makes care available and affordable to all families who need it.

Across party lines, a strong majority of voters believe child care is at least very important to get the economy going again.

Most voters continue to believe that federal funding for quality early education from birth to age five—including child care and preschool—should be increased.

A possible federal proposal receives strong support: Congress would provide funding to states to expand their existing child care programs, so that every working parent who wants to do so could affordably send their child to the high-quality child care, early learning or pre-kindergarten program of their choice.

"The care and education of children is publicly funded starting in kindergarten. It should be the same for younger children as well."

83% of voters in key electoral battleground states say that candidates for office, including for president, should have plans and policies to help working parents afford high-quality child care.

9. Importance of Quality Child Care

When it comes to child care, quality matters more than you may think.

Access to affordable and reliable child care is critical for working families, offering parents better job stability and overall economic security.

But thinking about child care as a benefit to working parents without considering the potential impact on children is not just a wasted opportunity—it's also potentially poses risks to a child's healthy development. Quality early learning and care is vital for children, particularly those from low income families, to achieve success in school and throughout their lives. Unfortunately, in the United States, less than half of the children living in poverty have access to the high-quality early childhood programs that could dramatically improve their lives. Research shows both short- and long-term benefits for children who attend high-quality programs, including lasting gains in both IQ and social-emotional skills. These gains prepare individuals to earn higher wages as adults, live healthier lives, avoid incarceration, raise stronger families, and contribute to society. Quality matters, and low-quality care can be detrimental to children, families, and society.

High-quality child care.

While no one program is a silver bullet, investing in high-quality early childhood education is a solution that creates upward mobility through opportunity, and there is a set of common elements that define high-quality early childhood education—regardless of program. Research shows that programs that begin at birth, incorporate and recognize the importance of health and nutrition, develop cognitive and character skills, and incorporate factors such as the presence of a qualified teacher and assistant, small class size, and low teacher-to-student ratio lead to the best outcomes for children. Children in these settings during their most formative years are more likely to be prepared for school and do better later in life than children who did not receive quality early childhood education.

Low-quality can have adverse effects.

Although all children benefit from high-quality care, research shows that low-income children can be harmed by low-quality care. In Gender Differences in the Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program, Nobel Laureate James Heckman found that children in high-quality settings had significantly better life outcomes than those who received lower-quality care. However, low-income males who were in low-quality settings experienced reduced health outcomes and earned lower wages later in life than those who attended quality programs or were able to stay home with a parent or family member. What’s more, low-quality child care has the potential to exacerbate the adversity and sustained toxic stress children face that are often associated with living in poverty. According to analysis from Dr. Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal at the University of Pittsburgh, the amount of time children spend in low-quality care arrangements is related to elevated levels of externalizing behavior problems. Young children—particularly boys—are susceptible to the effects low-quality care; therefore, early childhood programs must be of higher-quality.

Quality programs can close the income/achievement gap.

The sad truth is that family income in the United States has a dramatic effect on early childhood development and subsequent school achievement. In fact, by the age of four, an 18-month gap is apparent between a child living in poverty and her more affluent peers. That gap is still present at the age of 10 and continues throughout high school. Once this gap opens, it is difficult and expensive to close. The solution is to prevent the achievement gap with access to quality early childhood education programs that close the learning opportunity gap across the various socioeconomic positions. A wide body of research shows that quality early childhood education can bring disadvantaged children to parity by kindergarten, reducing children’s timidity, improving attentiveness and IQ scores by up to 10 points, reducing the percentage of children repeating a grade, and lowering the rate of special education placement by 10%.

Quality more than pays for itself while low-quality has little pay off.

Simply put, high-quality early childhood education is a high-quality investment that creates upward mobility for a child through increased achievement and gains for society in increased productivity and reduced social costs. Every dollar invested in comprehensive, high-quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children from birth through age five provides a 13% return on investment to society. But that return only exists when the care is high-quality. The value far outweighs the cost—and the more we invest in quality the more we gain in quality outcomes that strengthen families, children, our workforce, and our nation. Investing in low-quality programs is not the investment we owe American families—and can, in fact, hurt them.