There’s a Solution to Increase Child Care Access and Quality and Congress Needs to Act Now.
A year ago, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Robert Scott (D-VA) introduced a bill that, if passed, would make child care more affordable, raise quality and support child care providers by improving their wages and increasing professional development opportunities. This legislation is long overdue. In my opinion, the Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWF) needed to exist decades ago, yet here we are. The country has not committed to a comprehensive plan for child care. Thankfully, members of Congress like Sen. Murray and Rep. Scott, are setting a path forward for the country for working parents and their children.
Under their bill, if a family earns less than 150% of the State Median Income, their child care payments would be limited to 7% of their earned income. This is a big deal. Studies have found that child care costs often is a significant portion of a family’s budget. On average, full-time care could cost up to $20,000 a year, depending on where the family lives, type of care and age of child. In 33 states and D.C., infant care costs exceed the average cost of in-state college tuition at public 4-year institutions. However, financial help for child care is very limited. Only one in six children eligible for child care assistance receive it.
When mothers receive help affording child care, they are more likely to get and keep a job, which results in more support for their families and financial security. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, 1.6 million parents would join the workforce if this bill passes and becomes law. Child Care providers will also benefit from the CCWF. Currently, the average salary for child care workers is $11.42 an hour, making it one of the lowest paying jobs in the country. These providers should be paid a living wage– they are shaping our future’s young minds!
The Child Care for Working Families Act needs to be a top priority for Congress. It will strengthen our communities and our country by giving families, children, and providers the opportunity to thrive and succeed.