Child Care For Working Families Act
On Tuesday, February 26, Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) along with his Senate counterpart, Senator Patty Murray introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act. The House version is HR 1364 and the Senate bill is S 586. HR 1364 begins with 106 House co-sponsors while the Senate bill has 34. Congressman Scott is the Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee that has jurisdiction over the legislation. Senator Murray is the Ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee.
The legislation would provide that no family under 150 percent of state median income pays more than seven percent of their income on child care. Families would pay a sliding scale cost of care up to that seven percent of income with families under 75 percent of the state median income not having a cost. The state median income, unlike a federal poverty measure, is individual to each state and represents the income that lands in between half the population at the higher level and half on the lower level of income. As a result a child care program would cover a significant number of families beyond the poorest. The CCDBG has allowed states to provide child care coverage up to 85 percent of the state median but it has never had enough funding to come close to allowing any state the ability to provide such coverage. According to supporters the legislation would also:
• Provide for cost-sharing between the federal government and states to provide high-quality, affordable child care from birth through age 13.
• More than double the number of children eligible for child care assistance and ensure all those who are eligible can enroll their child in a quality program.
• Provide incentives and funding for states to create high-quality preschool programs for low- and moderate-income 3- and 4-year olds during the school day
• Provide a higher matching rate for programs for harder and more expensive to serve infants and toddlers.
• Increase workforce training and compensation, including by ensuring that all child care workers are paid at a “living wage” and parity with elementary school teachers if they have similar credentials and experience.
• Improve care in a variety of settings, including addressing the needs of family, friend, and neighbor care and care during non-traditional hours (nighttime, weekends, odd hours).
• Create more high-quality child care providers for children with disabilities, and infants and toddlers with disabilities, including by increasing funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
• Help Head Start programs meet the new expanded duration requirements and provide full-day, full-year programming.
In announcing it Scott said, “…parents are struggling to find and afford high-quality child care, and some are even being forced to work fewer hours or not work at all, so they can take care of their children,” while Senate counterpart Patty Murray (D-WA) said: “I know we can do better—that is why I’m proud to reintroduce the Child Care for Working Families Act today to ensure every working family has access to high-quality, affordable child care, and that our child care educators are paid what they deserve. This is not only the right thing to do for working families, but it’s a smart investment in our children, our future, and our economy.”