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$12 million daycare facility for U.S. House employees will open politics to women, lawmakers say

Lawmakers say that a new $12 million daycare facility, exclusively available to U.S. House employees, will open up paths for women in politics. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A new, $12 million-dollar daycare facility is opening up just outside of Capitol Hill, exclusively for the use employees of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The daycare wasn’t cheap, and the $12 million expenses is being paid through taxpayer dollars. Still, the lawmakers behind the idea say that it’s more than just a convenience. They believe that it’s going to help open the doors for more women in politics.

Child care and women in politics

Jaime Herrera Beutler

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who gave birth while in office, addresses the crowd, her baby in her arm. (Photo: U.S. Congresswoman
Jaime Herrera Beutler)

No corners were cut building the U.S. House daycare. It’s a state-of-the-art, 26,000 square-foot facility, complete with a miniature version of the National Mall in the playground.

To employees of the U.S. House, however, it represents more than just a top-end daycare. For a lot of them, the chance to send their kids to any daycare at all is nothing short of a miracle.

The average wait time for a U.S. House employee to get their children into government daycare is three years. For a mother in politics, that means the only way to get childcare in order to keep representing the people who voted you into power is to get on the waiting list before you’ve even conceived.

There are alternatives to public daycare, of course, but Washington D.C. has the most expensive daycares in the country. Child care for one child, in the nation’s capital, costs an average of $22,631 a year.

For a lot of women, that’s a huge barrier to politics. On average, women spend 50 percent more on childcare than their husbands, a factor experts say is a big part of the reason we see fewer women in politics.

The new U.S. House daycare, which will provide care for up 120 children, is expected to bring that waiting list down from 3 years to 1. Once in, House representatives won’t get free care. The $1,100 to $1,700 monthly charge, however, will be significantly lower than the average private daycare in the D.C. area

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who gave birth while serving Congress, hopes that the new daycare will encourage more women to run for office.

“The message is: You can make this work. For the good of the country and for the good of your family,” Beutler told NPR. “The daycare facility was just another opportunity to give that option so that we get more women — so we are going to be more representative of the American people.”

More to the story

KSL Newsradio’s Debbie Dujanovic talked about this story on the Dave & Dujanovic Show, and she said that she’s deeply conflicted about this story. She says that daycare is completely necessary – but she’s not sure it needs to cost $12 million.

If you missed the show live, you can still catch everything she said on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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