New Bill Addresses Families’ Desperate Need for High-Quality, Affordable Child Care

Now more than ever it is vital that families have access to high-quality, affordable child care. The research is clear that early childhood education plays a valuable role in children’s future success and their parents’ ability to work. Yet, high-quality child care is out of reach for many families because they can’t afford it or can’t find it. Most families are unable to receive help paying for child care, and the number of children receiving child care assistance has been declining since 2006. But child care programs can’t afford to lower the fees they charge parents, because child care providers’ wages are already so low that many are forced to depend on public benefits.
The Child Care for Working Families Act introduced by Senator Patricia Murray (D-WA) and Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) would address these challenges by helping millions of families to afford high-quality child care. The bill would amend the Child Care and Development Block Grant so that no family earning under 150% of the state median income would pay more than 7% of their income on child care. The bill would also provide resources for increased professional development for child care providers to enhance the quality of care and higher compensation for providers so they so that they can support their own families.
How This Bill Helps Families
Many families struggle to afford child care, particularly infant care, which is most expensive. In 30 states and the District of Columbia, the cost of center-based care for an infant is higher than the cost of public college tuition. Many parents are unable to pay for these costs, and as a result find it impossible to work.  Many other parents who must work to support their families are left to rely on lower-cost—often unreliable—child care options. This bill would ensure that low- and moderate-income families will no longer face these difficult choices. It will provide assistance to help these families afford child care and expand child care options, particularly in areas with acute shortages of care. The bill also aims to increase the availability of high-quality, inclusive child care for infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities, which is extremely challenging for families to find. In addition, the bill focuses on increasing child care options for the many parents working night, weekend, or other nontraditional hours, since care during these hours is currently in very short supply.
How This Bill Helps Child Care Providers
Child care workers—95% of whom are women—experience exceptionally low wages and insufficient benefits. This bill sets out to ensure that those who dedicate their lives to caring for and educating our children are recognized for their contribution. The Child Care and Working Families Act would increase compensation for child care providers and provide funding to help providers obtain additional education and gain new credentials. These steps would make it possible to attract and retain the well-qualified child care providers that are essential for high-quality child care.
Step Up for Families and Children
The Child Care for Working Families Act provides a roadmap for a child care system that works for children and families. It’s time for all of us to make sure that our Senators and Representatives are on board to co-sponsor this landmark bill.