Sometimes well-meaning legislators try to do good for the family through their policies. Sometimes those good efforts fall woefully short in deeply concerning ways. This is because these lawmakers are not being bold and innovative enough in their policy proposals. This must change.

This is the point leading University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox makes in an important new op/ed. He explains, “Too often, Republicans succumb to the temptation to take a Democratic policy priority, trim down its scope, spend less, tweak it a little, and, voila, try to pass some Democrat-lite measure off as an authentically conservative alternative.” This is not wise policy making.

Professor Wilcox explains that Republicans, in reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant bill are in effect doing nothing more than “trying to breathe new life into President Joe Biden’s ill-fated ‘Build Back Better’ bill, which would have spent more than $200 billion on subsidizing child care for millions of poor and middle-class families.”

He continued:

“The problem is that this bill would end up steering thousands of dollars in child care subsidies to middle- and working-class families with two parents in the labor force and offer nothing to similar families who have made a considerable financial sacrifice to have one parent at home.”

Professor Wilcox, a long champion of families that work hard and make deep sacrifices to care for their own children at home, says real families like that headed by Jeremy and Ashley Fannin of Clayton, North Carolina “would get zilch” under this GOP bill because “the Fannins [a family of five] are sacrificing to have Ashley stay home and care for their young children while Jeremy serves in the military.”

Ashley Fannin explained this is a “frustrating policy for those of us who have chosen in this season of life to have a parent stay at home,” because they are living on a modest military salary. Ashley added, “I also feel that a parent’s job within the home is one of the most important so to not recognize that or to help make it more of a possibility for parents would be unfair.” This is not pro-family legislation.

And it is not real leadership when those seeking to strengthen the family take originally very dangerous ideas and make adjustments with the hopes of making them “less bad.” Good leadership should go back to a clean drawing board to create and advocate for the kinds of innovative policies that actually advance family strength and cohesion.

Professor Wilcox asserts, “More generally, Republicans should be pursuing family policies that do not discriminate against families with a stay-at-home parent and a worker.” He is precisely right, and Wilcox adds, “Any party that aims to be ‘The Parents’ Party’ must not exclude families who sacrifice to have a parent stay-at-home to raise their young children.” Focus on the Family hopes that Wilcox’s insights are heeded.

You can read Professor Wilcox’s entire op/ed here to learn more about how academic research demonstrates why children being cared for by their own parents at home tend to thrive compared to children who are not. This body of data shows why it is so important that policy makers consider the necessity of parental caregiving for child well-being.

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