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.