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Running for office made easier for Delaware's parents

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Delaware is now the 25th state to allow candidates running for office to use campaign funds for childcare.

Quite a few of Delaware’s newly elected state lawmakers are raising children, and until now, they had to pay any childcare costs while running for election.

Now, the First State joins 24 others and the federal government in allowing candidates to use funds they’ve raised for their campaign on childcare.

Liuba Grechen Shirley is the founder of Vote Mama, a political group dedicated to helping moms get elected. Grechen Shirley was also the first person to receive federal approval to use campaign funds for childcare during her 2018 run for Congress.

“There’s a reason we have so many millionaires in Congress and in government because it’s very difficult for working parents to run, to give up a salary, to pick up the cost of childcare — and to my surprise it was a bipartisan unanimous decision and it changed the way that people run for office,” Grechen Shirley says.

In Delaware, State Rep. Shera’e Moore says she was forced to deplete her entire savings and relied on community members to help take care of her children while she ran for office.

Melanie Ross Levin is the director of the Office of Women’s Advancement and Advocacy.

“It was really really helpful to have people with young children in office because we’re dealing with issues that directly impact everyone, including young children and young families.” Ross Levin says. “And if we don’t have those people in office, then we have problems with our legislative process.”

State Sen. Kyle Evans Gay has two daughters and says she came to Dover with the mindset of not only representing District five, but also the interests of struggling Delaware parents everywhere.

She says having the perspective of a parent is important in the state legislature, and this new law will help bring more people with that perspective into the General Assembly.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.