More States Consider Allowing Campaign Cash To Pay The Babysitter

Colorado and Utah are two of just six states nationwide that have laws allowing political campaign funds to be used for childcare expenses. But that number’s likely to climb, potentially freeing up more parents to run for office.

Some states remain silent on using campaign funds for child care. Others operate on precedent -- meaning candidates can petition election authorities for permission on a case by case basis. 

Jean Sinzdak, associate director of the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University, expects more states to adopt such laws, mainly because more women are running for office. 

“This issue is really important to opening the playing fields to women of all ages and from all types of family backgrounds to be able to consider running for office,” Sinzdak said.

She says childcare expenses remain a barrier keeping women and single parents, especially, from statehouses.

“It gives them the chance to say, ‘Oh, it’s really clear—for any campaign-related activity I have to do, I can hire a babysitter and I don’t have to worry about that additional burden,’” Sinzdak said.

Several states have pending legislation and Sinzdak says there is also one pending at the federal level.  It would just need to be passed by the Senate.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.