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How things ought to work

When recent Community Forum speaker Ed McMahon was in Salisbury talking with the Post’s editorial board, he offered this advice on building cooperation and consensus: Find a worthwhile goal that even contentious parties can agree on, even if it’s an incremental step. Build some momentum — and trust.
Apparently, that’s a philosophy Sen. Richard Burr can get behind, too, even in an atmosphere as combative as our current Congress. Burr, a staunch Republican from North Carolina, joined forces with Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland, to write and promote legislation that will strengthen protections against child abuse and reinforce part of the safety net for some low-income families. Titled the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, the measure recently sailed through the Senate and is expected to win easy passage in the House.
It should.
Among its major elements, it supports continued federal funding for state child-care voucher programs that help low-income parents with young children afford to work. It also requires some of the grant money go toward improved training for child-care employees who work with infants and toddlers. That training would, for example, increase awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and measures to prevent it.
On the protection side, the bill requires, for the first time, criminal background checks for child-care providers. Such checks are already mandatory at some private providers, but the legislation requires that all providers meet what would seem a minimal standard for anyone who regularly works with children.
“This is how the Senate should run,” Burr said. “Through years of negotiations, meetings with hundreds of interested stakeholders and honest conversations with my colleagues in the Senate, we have taken a positive step toward ensuring our kids are protected while in child care.”
Burr’s right, of course. Whether it’s in Congress or Rowan County, this kind of concerted action should be the norm we expect from our elected leaders, not an isolated legislative breakthrough that arrives like a cloudburst in a searing drought. Relative to bruising battles over issues such as Medicaid expansion and health-care coverage, this measure might not seem like a big deal. But it is to low-income parents and the children who would gain enhanced protection from predators. It’s a good example of how the system can and should work, at all levels of government, but too often does not.

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