by Karen Schulman, Senior Policy Analyst, 
National Women's Law Center 

Today the President made clear he recognizes that child care is central to efforts to strengthen middle-class families. 

At a meeting of the White House Middle Class Task Force, the President announced several proposals to help families, including those juggling their responsibilities to care for their children and their elderly parents as well as those trying to pay off student loans. 

By including child care in this agenda for middle-class families, the White House is acknowledging that families working to get ahead cannot succeed unless parents have stable, affordable child care that enables them to get and keep a job and that offers a nurturing, supportive environment for their children.

The White House agenda includes proposals to expand the value of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for middle class families with incomes up to $115,000 a year. For example, the tax credit rate would increase from 20 percent to 35 percent of qualifying expenses for families with incomes under $85,000, which would increase the maximum credit for a family in this income range with two children by $900, from $1,200 to $2,100. 

In addition, the administration is proposing a $1.6 billion increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the largest one-year increase in 20 years, to help an additional 235,000 children from low-income families trying to enter the middle-class. 

Adopting these proposals would be a significant step forward for middle-class families, and families aspiring to join the middle-class, who are doing all they can in difficult economic times to support themselves and see to the well-being of their children.