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August 7, 2002

Immediate Action Needed

Take action! Urge your Senators to support $11.2 Billion for Child Care and to reauthorize TANF

Congress has adjourned for the August Recess/Summer District Work Period and will return after Labor Day. This may be your last opportunity to influence members of Congress - especially your Senators - before they cast important votes on child care and reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. The full Senate may consider the bill in September. It is possible that Congress will postpone action on TANF until January, after the upcoming elections.


On June 26, the Senate Finance Committee approved the Work, Opportunity, and Responsibility for Kids (WORK) Act of 2002, a bill reauthorizing TANF and child care. The House had approved their version of TANF and child care reauthorization on May 16 when they passed H.R. 4737, the Personal Responsibility, Work, and Family Promotion Act of 2002. Both bills reauthorize the TANF program for five years and set the guaranteed funding level for child care.

The Senate Finance Committee-passed bill differs from the House-passed bill (H.R. 4737) most significantly in the levels of funding for child care and Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), the work requirements for TANF recipients, and the expansion of vocational education, screening of barriers to employment, and substance abuse treatment services for TANF-eligible recipients.

Summaries of both bills are available on CWLA's website:


(1) CONTACT YOUR U.S. SENATORS IN THEIR STATE AND DC OFFICES. Tell them to reauthorize child care and TANF this year. Congress must increase funding for child care by at least $11.2 billion, restore funding to $2.8 billion for SSBG, and maintain fairness in the TANF work requirements. You can reach DC Senate offices through the Capitol switchboard at 202/224-3121.

a. INCREASE FUNDING FOR CHILD CARE. Ask your Senators to support efforts to increase funding for child care by at least $11.2 billion. Child care funding needs to be increased to provide more quality child care services to more families, regardless of whether work requirements are increased in TANF. Currently, only 1 in 7 eligible children receive child care assistance.

b. RESTORE FUNDING TO SSBG. Ask your Senators to restore funding to $2.8 billion for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG).

c. MAINTAIN FAIRNESS IN THE TANF WORK REQUIREMENTS. Ask your Senators to support expansion of vocational education, screening of barriers to employment, and treatment for substance abuse.


Send a sign-on letter to your Senators from children's groups and other supportive organizations in your state that expresses the importance of increased funding for child care, with reference to your state's individual needs. In the letter, urge your Senators to support efforts to ensure an $11.2 billion increase in child care. Request as many signatures of organizations in your community as possible by early September. Fax or e-mail the letter and mail an original copy to both of your Senators.


a. Send a letter to the editor to your local papers about why increased funding for child care is essential for low-income working families. Ask your networks to write as well. Share personal stories - the experiences of parents and providers, things you see as an advocate or resource and referral employee.

Please see the attached sample letter to the editor and the below message points for guidance.

b. In August or early September, hold a press conference or rally of working parents who need child care assistance, but cannot get help. Include parents who can talk about how the child care help they receive makes a big difference in their ability to work, pay the bills, and feel good about their child's early learning experiences. Don't forget to send a media advisory to alert the press beforehand.


  • Hundreds of thousands of hard-working families are on waiting lists for child care all across the country. At least 22 states have long waiting lists for child care while the remain states don't even collect names since they are so short on child care funding. Over one-third of states place eligible families who apply for help on waiting lists or turn them away without even taking their names.

  • Child care is unaffordable for many families. Full-day child care can easily cost between $4,000 and $10,000 a year--at least as much as public college tuition. Many low-income parents who are unable to get help paying for child care may be forced to make impossible choices - whether to pay for rent, food, or child care. They may have to choose less expensive, but potentially detrimental, care for their children. For some, they will have no choice but to turn to welfare.

  • The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) - our major federal child care program - is the primary source of support for families who cannot afford the quality child care that is critical to their ability to find and keep a job and to prepare their children to succeed in school.

  • Most low-income families cannot get help paying for child care. Nationally, only 1 out of 7 children eligible under federal law receives help. In two-fifths of the states, a family of four earning just $25,000 a year would not qualify for child care assistance.

  • The Senate must vote to invest an additional $11.2 billion over the next five years in CCDF when it considers the welfare and child care bill on the Senate floor. They must also support new incentives to bolster the quality of child care to help children get ready for school.
For more information contact John Sciamanna, CWLA Senior Government Affairs Associate, at 202/639-4919 or

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