As increasing numbers of women who have young children become involved in the political process, the issue of child care gets more attention. That’s good as far as it goes. But with the GOP Convention going on in Tampa and the Democrats getting ready to nominate Barack Obama for a second term, I’ve been wondering how many women delegates are going to need child care to allow them to attend and participate in the nominating process?
Granted, one of the reasons I’m wondering is my own child care situation as I make my way to Charlotte next week to bring you my perspective on the events. I had hoped to go to Tampa, as well. But when I looked at all the factors:
1. I’m going on my own dime,
2. PunditGirl doesn’t start school until after Labor Day,
3. We don’t have a nanny,
4. We don’t have any family members who live nearby who can really help out,
5. Mr. PunditMom is getting ready for two trials and an overseas work trip, so his schedule isn’t as flexible as it could be at other times
— I could only swing a few days out of two weeks.
So, we’ve been scrambling a bit just to be able to make it possible for me to spend a few days at the DNC. We’re lucky we have an after-care program at school and one adult sitter who can pick up a little of the slack. But it was a planning challenge to make it work.
But surely official state delegates will have child care provided for them so they can fulfill their legal obligations in the nominating process, right?
Um, not so much.
There’s no official word from the Republicans about whether child care is being provided by the party. But reports have it that there isn’t any. But the Democrats, surely would help out on that, right? My party!! Not them either.
I asked some folks I know and this is the response I got from a DNCC spokesperson:
“Democratic conventions have historically required credentials for all individuals to access the convention hall to ensure the safety and security of all attending.”
This really only addresses whether kids are allowed on the convention floor. And no, they’re not. A non-answer to my child-care question, I’d say.
There will be lactation rooms for nursing mothers in the convention buildings for the Democrats, but no on-site child care, so that makes logistics difficult. But it doesn’t have to be on-site, does it? To their credit, the Democrats put together a list of child care providers that delegates could use to find services, but wouldn’t it have been an amazing message if they had gone the extra step of having it on site AND making it free to delegates?
Given how much money is spent on the bells and whistles, why not cut back on that and give moms and dads both the opportunity to bring their kids with them and have care provided? Since the party requires each state’s delegation to be equally divided between men and women, the odds go up that some of those women are going to parents of young children, right? The out-of-pocket costs to delegates to attend a convention, which, depending on where you’re flying from, can run into the thousands of dollars. In light of the tens of millions of dollars spent just putting on the convention, and the tens of millions spent for security, providing affordable and easily accessible child care for all delegates, men and women, would have been an amazing thing to do.
Oh, and did I mention you and I are paying for most of this? So if the political parties are using my money for these shindigs, I’d like a little set aside for a nice child care center.
Gloria Steinem has called it “discrimination against moms.” I don’t disagree. But it’s also discrimination against all parents who don’t have the resources to leave their children at home. Some families will have to choose — leave home for a week to help nominate the next president or stay at home because lots of families, similar to my own, have a long list of reasons why it’s almost impossible to make the logistics work.
Come on, Democrats. You can do better than that. So can the Republicans, but I don’t really expect it from them. Kids have been in the well of the House of Representatives. Why not the convention floors? Isn’t that exactly how your political recruiting should start?
Maybe I should have applied for PunditGirl to have her own credentials?