Clinton Extolls Her Own Childhood With Mom, But Wants Today's 3-Year-Olds in Child Care

By Susan Jones | June 16, 2015 | 7:55am EDT
In this 2007, Dorothy Rodham campaign with her daughter, then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, on the campaign trail in Iowa. (AP File Photo)

( - "Only 55 percent of all of America's 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool," Hillary Clinton said on Monday, after telling a crowd in New Hampshire how much she valued her own childhood at home with her mother.

"I just knew she was my mom," Clinton said of the late Dorothy Rodham. "And she was great and she was fun and she taught me so much. And she made grilled cheese and tomato soup sandwiches. I mean, there was just a wonderful sense of being loved and taken care of, but also being inspired."

Clinton also explained how terrible it was for her own mother to be abandoned by her parents.

But a few minutes later, Clinton said even children as young as three should be enrolled in some kind of pre-school or child-care program.

"Only 55 percent of all of America's 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool, and meanwhile, many of our economic competitors are racing ahead. They are making big investments in preschool and early education."

She noted that China is making a "huge commitment" to early childhood education because of "brain research."

"I believe the time has come to make pre-school and quality child care available to every child in America. If our families are going to be strong and our economy is going to thrive, all our kids need the chance to get off to the best possible start," Clinton said.

"I will work with states and communities across America to make sure that in the next 10 years, every four-year-old in America has access to high-quality pre-school."

She noted that Oklahoma, a "red" state, already has a universal pre-K program. And she hailed recent progress in New Hampshire, noting that once a state funds public kindergarten, the rest is easier to accomplish:

"Nearly 20 years ago, back when Senator Jeanne Shaheen was Governor Shaheen, she delivered funding for public kindergarten for the first time in the state's history. That then allowed the conversation to move where it is today with Governor Maggie Hassan supporting efforts for full-day kindergarten and innovative pre-K partnerships. So you start and get what you...have achieved on kindergarten.

"Then you move toward full-day and then innovative pre-K. All across the country we need to be doing that.

"And we also need to invest in child care, because if you only start at four, the brain research shows that 80 percent of your brain has developed by the age of three. Now the good news is that leaves 20 percent to keep working on.

"But it is a fact that, by three, many of our kids have already had most of the brain development that they're going to get. And in this campaign, I'll offer a comprehensive agenda to ensure that every child in America has access to quality, affordable child care.

"I will propose a middle-class tax cut to help parents deal with rising child care costs. And I'll lead an effort to expand child care opportunities and to make sure that programs address both the needs of working parents and the needs of children."

Clinton said child care shouldn't be a "warehouse" for children: "We should invest in programs that create healthy environments for early learning and to make sure that parents get the support they need from the time their children are infants."

She promised to double funding for Early Head Start and the Early Head Start Child Care program.

And she said early childhood education and child care should combine public and private efforts.

"I think if we come together and take this on as a true national mission, we can unlock the potential of all our children and further the potential of our country. And our country then will be more inclusive, not leaving people behind and out, and where a father can tell his daughter, 'You can grow up to be anything you want, including president of the United States.'"

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