Children are the most vulnerable members of society. Currently, there is no public childcare available for infants and children 0-3 at all in Virginia. This puts a great deal of unpaid labor on parents and forces mothers into purchasing expensive childcare on the private market if they want to work. Head Start and the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) provide care for only <20% of 4-year olds, and in our area of the New River Valley, there are more eligible pre-k children than spaces available in the schools that offer these programs. While the Biden administration has bailed out corporate childcare centers and proposed expanding public childcare to cover 3 and 4 year olds, this bailout and expansion would still exclude many children whose parents either make too much money or for any reason aren’t paying taxes, while also continuing to exclude younger children and infants completely. Contemporary marijuana legislative reform in Virginia also includes commercial taxation to fund childcare for at-risk children, but uses means testing to determine who is eligible for these benefits.
There needs to be a socialist intervention into childcare in Virginia. The DSA’s size, democratic structure, and capacity for mass mobilization make it the perfect vehicle to advance a Childcare for All campaign. We, as socialists, think that means tested “poverty programs” are weak capitalist reforms, and we seek instead the creation of a progressive income tax in Virginia to fund universal childcare as a public good. A tax of this size and scope would effectively redistribute wealth and ensure every child has a safe place to go and be cared for outside of their home. Universal childcare legislation would also increase wages for childcare workers while capping childcare costs for families, ensuring that every child in Virginia has access to public play-based preschool and childcare near where they live.
As members of the NRV DSA, we would like to formally propose that our chapter create a Childcare 4 All Working Group. The goals for the WG would be to:
Investigate childcare in the NRV and VA
Facilitate a universal childcare reading group and informative panel
Build Coalitions with other childcare advocacy groups and unions in VA
Create universal childcare campaign materials and graphics
Advance a Childcare for All (C4A) Campaign through the national DSA and VA DSA
Write progressive income tax legislation for C4A
Advance the electoral campaigns of VA DSA-endorsed candidates prioritizing C4A
Lobby for universal childcare legislation in the Virginia General Assembly
The C4A WG will meet monthly on the 1st Sunday of every month at 8 PM, and run from May 1st, 2021, until May 1st 2023, for 24 meetings over the course of 2 years, at which point the NRV DSA can vote to renew or disband the WG. Meeting minutes for the WG will be kept on nrvdsa.org. Leadership roles for chair and secretary will take place within 90 days of voting the WG into session.