Home ethics “Vote Mama Foundation” Launches Nationwide Effort For Campaign Funds For Childcare, With...

“Vote Mama Foundation” Launches Nationwide Effort For Campaign Funds For Childcare, With Focus On Virginia


The following is from the Vote Mama Foundation, ” the leading source of research and analysis about the political participation of moms in the United States. Note that former Del. Debra Rodman (D) is the Virginia state chair for Vote Mama and quoted in the report as follows: “Campaigning, working full time at work and at home is almost impossible. It is unsustainable. If we want a diversity of candidates, if we want equity in campaigns, we need to make childcare part of the process.”


The adoption in VA & across 50 states will diversify local legislatures & advance essential infrastructure including universal childcare

NEW YORK — Vote Mama Foundation, a nonprofit working toward gender equity by breaking down the structural and cultural barriers mothers face while running for office, has launched an aggressive campaign to enact the use of Campaign Funds for Childcare for state and local elections in all 50 states before 2023, with an early focus on Virginia. Legislation of this kind would remove a significant obstacle that many mothers face when running for office and help ensure that our representatives share the voices and priorities of the people they serve. This shift in the makeup of our democracy is essential to galvanizing support for family-friendly policies, including a linchpin issue in economic stability and the key priority of the Vote Mama Foundation: universal childcare.

Last month, the Virginia Senate killed H.B. 1952, a campaign finance reform bill that would ban the use of campaign contributions for personal use — except for childcare. Vote Mama Foundation is now advocating for an opinion by Attorney General Mark Herring regarding Campaign Funds for Childcare and a reintroduction of a standalone bill next session.

“Whether you’re running for local office or working in retail, all parents deserve access to universal childcare,” said Liuba Grechen Shirley, Founder and CEO of Vote Mama Foundation. “However, our political leaders — often wealthy, white, and male — have failed to champion policies that benefit all our families, including universal childcare, a living wage and paid family leave. Today, women and especially women of color are bearing the brunt of this negligence. Enough is enough. Imagine if not one potential candidate at any level of our government had to consider the cost of childcare in weighing their decision to run for office. We are working to break down the institutional barriers to empower a diverse pipeline of working mothers to run for office and win. By making Campaign Funds for Childcare a priority, we have the opportunity to transform the political landscape.”

This announcement coincides with the release of Vote Mama Foundation’s new report — Campaign Funds for Childcare: Breaking Barriers for Moms to Run for Office — which presents first-of-its-kind research examining the use of Campaign Funds for Childcare by working parents who have run for office across the country, and provides a case-study of potential impact of similar legislation across all 50 states. It demonstrates:

  • How access to childcare is often an impediment to parents running for office.
  • Essential legislation parents have passed once they have used Campaign Funds for Childcare to run and win.
  • How passing Campaign Funds for Childcare legislation in all 50 states will build a diverse pipeline of working parents who draw upon their lived experience when legislating.

In 2018, Grechen Shirley petitioned the Federal Election Commission and became the first woman to receive federal approval to spend campaign funds on childcare. This groundbreaking decision, which gained support from Secretary Hillary Clinton and 24 members of Congress, was unanimously and bipartisanly approved by the FEC. However, the ruling does not apply to candidates running for state and local office. Vote Mama Foundation is the only organization working with candidates across the country to petition their state and local election commissions and legislators to introduce legislation to approve the use of Campaign Funds for Childcare. They are tracking the use of Campaign Funds for Childcare at the federal and state levels to determine who is utilizing it and how it is impacting the makeup of our government. To date, 11 states have enacted legislation, and Vote Mama Foundation is partnering with 18 states in 2021. This legislative session, 14 states have introduced bills, 4 of which have already passed into law.

“I’ve broken barriers every step of my life, and I’m running for governor to help more Virginians break barriers in their own communities. That means getting obstacles out of the way of working parents in Virginia,” said Jennifer Carroll Foy, Former Virginia House Delegate and current candidate for Governor of Virginia. “Without access to childcare, especially during a pandemic, there is no doubt in my mind that I would not be able to run my campaign and build the momentum for our forward looking vision that we have. Moms across Virginia deserve to be able to achieve their dreams without fear of the impact on their family or finances. Passing Campaign Funds for Childcare is the first step to making that a reality and ensuring we open the door to more working parents running for office and representing working people in our government.”

Recently, ten members of the Virginia General Assembly signed on to a letter led by Senator Jennifer McClellan, the first member of  the House of Delegates in 2010 to give birth  while in office, calling for an opinion by Attorney General Mark Herring regarding Campaign Funds for Childcare.

“I have heard candidates express fear and hesitancy to use campaign funds for childcare expenses. This creates an unnecessary barrier for parents and lower income heads of households – particularly women – from seeking office,” added Jennifer McClellan, State Senator for Virginia and current candidate for Governor of Virginia. “Such barriers undermine the right of Virginians to full representation in our state and local democracy. I’m thrilled to work with the Vote Mama Foundation as we fight to make sure that no mother in Virginia ever experiences a hesitation to run again.”

Major federal level findings from Vote Mama Foundation’s report include:

  • Since the FEC’s landmark decision in 2018, 51 federal candidates have used their campaign funds to pay for childcare, including moms and dads, Democrats and Republicans, and congressional, senatorial, and presidential candidates.
  • In both 2018 and 2020, more than 73% of funds have been spent by women. By contrast, women made up just 29% of all U.S. House candidates and 24% of U.S. Senate candidates in 2020.
  • In both 2018 and 2020, more than 45% of funds were spent by people of color.
  • Seventy-four percent of funds have been spent by Democrats, but Republican spending has increased over time, from just 10% of all funds in 2018 to 30% in 2020, demonstrating growing bipartisan support for this issue.
  • In 2020, candidates increased their childcare spending by 311% over the 2018 cycle.

Major findings at the state level include:

  • At least 66 state and local candidates have used campaign funds to pay for their childcare.
  • While more individual fathers running at the state and local level have used their Campaign Funds for Childcare, 61% of funds were spent by women.
  • Just 16% of funds were spent by people of color.
  • Sixty-five percent of the total funds used for childcare were spent by Democrats, 32% by Republicans, and 3% by third party, nonpartisan, or unaffiliated candidates.

Read the report here.


Vote Mama Foundation is the leading source of research and analysis about the political participation of mothers in the United States. We work toward gender equity by breaking the barriers mothers face running for office, normalizing mothers of young children running for office, and enabling legislators to pass family-friendly policies.

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