Working Mom to Congress: I Need Affordable Childcare Plus Rigorous Education

To build a "successful citizen of the U.S."

On the Mother's Day edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Chuck Todd held a roundtable discussion centered on the state of moms in America. One of his guests was Kishanna Poteat Brown, a full-time teacher and mother of two, who said she needed access to affordable childcare and for that program to include rigorous education for her children.

Brown explained that in the past, her and her professor husband were paying over $1,400 per month for childcare -- "far more than what our rent cost at the time." Based on that experience, Brown described exactly what she would expect from a government program to provide her, and not only her, but those women she said who aren't aware that they even need it:

So, when I say affordable childcare, I'm looking for a facility that's safe, a facility that has a rigorous early childhood education program, as well. Because what that does is, it not only services women in the middle class, but women who might not have the skill set to look for a rigorous program for their children. 

Another panelist, Maria Shriver, was brought in to add to the discussion. She spoke of providing affordable childcare, paid family leave, and flexible hours as paramount to giving women, and also for men, the opportunity to work and raise children at the same time.

"We are seeing that it takes two paychecks to live above the brink of poverty," Shriver said. "We have 44 million women, and something like 28 million children, who depend on them on the brink of poverty. And these are women who are working. I think it's inconceivable that we don't have paid leave. It's inconceivable we don't have maternity leave."

Comparing America's stats to other countries when it comes to providing paid maternity leave, Todd asked Shriver, "Why do you think we've not done this as a government?" 

Shriver responded:

That's a good question that will come up in this presidential election. I think when they started with paid leave out here in California, people said all the businesses will die. That hasn't turned out to be the case. Paid leave has turned out to be good for business… Millennials are demanding this out here in California. If you look at Silicon Valley, there is a very different culture developing to retain workers and all the science is really important to talk about. What children need is what mothers provide, which is attachment, which is love, nurturing, and what women need to spend time. That's the question -- is how these policies can support the development for children and the time women need to spend with them.

Todd turned to Brown and allowed her a platform to petition Congress for help:

I need affordable childcare, affordable educational opportunities. What happens is, especially in education, is that higher wages are often aligned to your education experience. So, the more education experience I have -- or even vocational training, technical training -- the better qualified I would be. 

And Todd agreed: "So, if you get childcare and you get more time to get an extra education, you get extra education, you get a higher income, and guess what? Then your kids get a better lifestyle and they get a better education."

"Correct," Brown said. "And I'm building the whole child to be a successful citizen in the Unites States. Not a child who has to depend on anything or anybody, but a child who is fully functional."