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March 26, 2004
Immediate Action Needed!
Urge Your Senators to Support Snowe-Dodd-Hatch Amendment to Increase Child Care Funding
On Monday, March 29, the Senate will begin floor debate on the reauthorization of the TANF and Child Care programs. No votes are expected on Monday, but the Senate will spend a few days on the debate before voting on amendments. While the length of the debate and number of amendments is unclear at this point, it is expected that the first amendment offered will be an amendment by Senators Snowe (R-ME), Dodd (D-CT), Hatch (R-UT), Alexander (R-TN), and Bingaman (D-NM). The amendment will increase child care funding by $6 billion over five years. Combined with funding included in the Senate bill, this would increase funding within the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) by $7 billion over five years.
After the vote on the child care amendment, it is unclear how many other amendments will be offered or their nature. It is possible that other proposed amendments may include work requirements changes, marriage amendments, increased benefits for legal immigrants, expanded waiver authority for other federal programs, tribal issues, treatment of individuals with disabilities, and barriers to work. It is also possible that unrelated amendments may be offered on the federal minimum wage and overtime labor laws.
Call your United States Senators. You can reach all congressional offices through the Capitol switchboard at 202/224-3121.
In the next few days the Senate will vote on a TANF and child care reauthorization bill. I urge you to vote in favor of the Snowe-Dodd-Hatch amendment to add $6 billion in child care funding.
Since 2002, Congress has frozen federal child care funding that is available through the Child Care and Development Fund at $4.8 billion. With this level of assistance, states are able to serve only 14%, or one in seven, of the federally eligible children with child care needs. This demand will also grow if Congress changes the law to require TANF recipients to work additional hours.
Another pressure on CCDF is the fact that states have also used TANF funds for child care, but this source of funding has leveled off. These TANF funds are spent on child care when a state either transfers funds from TANF to CCDF or spends TANF funds directly on child care. In 2001, the use of TANF funds for child care peaked at slightly less than $4 billion. In the last two years, the use of TANF funds for child care has decreased--down to $3.5 billion in 2003. The demand for these TANF dollars for other programs, such as child welfare services, and the effect of inflation on a fixed TANF block grant, will make it more difficult for states to use TANF dollars for child care over the next few years.
States are already making deep cutbacks in child care--reducing income eligibility to receive child care help, increasing parent co-payments, cutting provider reimbursement rates, and scaling back quality improvement initiatives. Consequently, many providers are closing their doors and hundreds of thousands of families remain on long waiting lists for the child care assistance they need to stay employed and provide a safe, supportive setting for their children. Unless increased funding under the Snowe amendment is approved, at least 360,000 children now receiving child care assistance will lose it by 2008 as a result of inflation.
For greater detail on the Child Care and TANF legislation and history, access CWLA's 2004 Children's Legislative Agenda at:
Child Care: http://www.cwla.org/advocacy/2004legagenda04.htm
For more information, contact John Sciamanna, CWLA Senior Government Affairs Associate, at 202/639-4919 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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