On Thursday, September 14, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act. The new legistaion attempts to set down a strong marker for what is truly needed to make improvements in the nation’s child care and early childhood education systems across the fifty states. It would authorize $20 million in 2018 increasing to $40 million in 2020 for a series of improvements to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).

Among the provisions of the comprehensive bill:

  • Increase mandatory federal funding to ensure that no family under 150% of state median income pays more than seven percent of their income on child care.
  • Supports universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year olds.
  • Establish a new federal-state partnership to provide high-quality, affordable child care from birth through age 13.
  • Establishes a sliding fee scale for families from 75 percent of SMI to 150 percent of SMI to assure that no family pays more than 7 percent of their income for care.
  • No co-payment for families earning no more than 75 percent of SMI or families eligible for Head Start.
  • Payment can be waived for children eligible for child protective services.
  • No charges to parents allowed beyond the co-payment.
  • More than doubles the number of children eligible for child care assistance, and ensures all those who are eligible have the ability to enroll their child in a quality program.
  • Provide incentives and funding for states to create universal preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds during the school day, while providing a higher matching rate for programs for infants and toddlers, who are often harder and more expensive to cover.
  • Increase workforce training and compensation, including by ensuring that all child care workers are paid a living wage and early childhood educators are provided parity with elementary school teachers with 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 to help meet the needs of working families.
  • Build more inclusive, 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.
  • Help all Head Start programs meet the new expanded duration requirements and provide full-day, full-year programming.

The Child Welfare League of America has endorsed the bill as it aligns with this year’s Legislative Agenda and our support for Principles for Child Care.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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