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Programming note

By Dylan Matthews

The best policy measures are those that address more than one major problem at once. Health-care reform expanded access to underserved patients while improving the United States' long-term fiscal picture. Cap-and-trade would reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change while reducing our dependence on oil from unsavory regimes. And adopting a comprehensive child care and early education system would allow millions more parents -- mostly mothers -- to enter the workforce while helping reduce the achievement gap between rich and poor students.

Two of these three policies have gotten plenty of attention on blogs like this one. Child care and pre-K policy, however, has not. This week, I'm going to try to remedy that. I'm no expert on the subject, but I've spent last week and this one talking to a lot of people who are, and I'll be posting interviews with them throughout the week. There are two main facets to the topic -- pre-K education policies designed primarily to benefit students, and child care policies designed primarily to let parents work -- and you'll be hearing from experts on both, as well as from people intimately familiar with the political challenges involved in achieving a universal child care and early education system.

The first interview will be posted shortly, so stay tuned.

Dylan Matthews is a student at Harvard and a researcher at The Washington Post.

By Dylan Matthews  |  August 23, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
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I am looking forward to some discussion on this topic. As a father to a now 14 month old, I really feel there has been a lack of coverage to the issues regarding the cost of child care and all that surrounds this topic.

Posted by: mcnater | August 23, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I agree with mcnater. Caring for children is a trillion times harder than it needs to be, and it's amazing to me that the formal structure of our society appears to be totally ignorant of the way humans reproduce. It's like they aren't supposed to exist until they're 5 years old, and even then, some kind of forest creature is supposed to care for them in the afternoon, because school ends 2-4 hours before the standard workday. Given that every aspect of our society depends on future generations not just existing, but also being pretty dang high-caliber, you'd think we'd have systems that support this mission critical goal.

One additional point: people don't realize how important grandparents are to parents, especially working ones. My father's knee replacement, paid for by Medicare, improves his and my mother's ability to be a free, high-quality caregiver for my child. He's much more functional so they can take care of my kid 2 days a week instead of one, which lets me work, saves me money and guarantees my child will be in a very rich and nurturing environment.

But, of course, since small children are invisible, so is the unbelievable effort put into their survival and the foundation that makes them productive citizens.

Posted by: theorajones1 | August 23, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Dylan: could you update this post (or provide a subsequent one) that collects all of the related interviews into one mega-post with links to each of your interviews? That would be swell; thanks!

Posted by: pgorrindo | August 27, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

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