People who are used to real perks have a hard time understanding what a vital need child care is to make America’s middle-class families function.
When one of the mothers whose child died in an unlicensed facility met with Virginia state lawmakers to try to push for tighter regulation, Sen. Steve Martin, a Republican from Chesterfield who chairs the education and health committee, said he would never put his children in care with someone he didn’t personally know.
How nice for him. Too bad most Americans don’t have the luxury of his choices.
A baby who died in an unlicensed, unregulated church-based child-care center in Virginia was the 7-week-old son of a former Navy boatswain.
The story is heartbreaking, but plenty of people had no sympathy for the mother of Dylan Cummings.
“On what planet is it appropriate to put a 7-week-old baby in day care?” one reader asked in the story’s online comment section. “Why are people having babies that they cannot afford to properly care for?”
On what planet do people have the gall to ask questions like that? Somehow, folks believe that every woman — from hospital executive to Navy sailor — gets to pick whatever she thinks is best for her and the baby.
Remember the groundbreaking Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993? The thing that was supposed to make it all better if you had a kid and didn’t want to lose your job?
That gives you only 12 weeks of unpaid leave to stay with your infant. At 12 weeks, they’re just learning to prop themselves up on their elbows during tummy time. It is physically wrenching to leave a baby to head back to work at this point. But hey, this is apparently the best we can do for working parents.
Virginia doesn’t hesitate to regulate what it cares about. This is a state that imposes all kinds of rules on health clinics that perform abortions, even specifying an exact and unusual size of door. Oh, and it’s also the state that tried to legislate vaginal probes for any woman about to get an abortion.
You can’t have it both ways, Virginia.
Follow me on Twitter at @petulad. To read previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/dvorak.