A Helping Hand for the High Cost of Child Care
By the middle of September, the shiny view of a lazy summer is already dimming, the school year is in full swing, and our minds turn to what fall will bring. But for most working families with young children, no matter the month, one thing never seems to change: the high cost, and low quality, of child care.
Finding safe and affordable care for children age 0 to 5 is a necessity but also a constant headache. In almost all 50 states, the cost of child care exceeds the federal standard for affordable care -- about 7 percent of a family’s income. In some states, like California, child care costs are even steeper than rent and college tuition. To make matters worse, about half of all Americans live in “child care deserts,” with little or no access to quality care.
These are just some of the reasons why Common Sense Kids Action strongly supports the Child Care for Working Families Act in Congress to make child care more affordable, more accessible, and of better quality, including for infants and toddlers with disabilities.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who also authored The Healthy Families Act that we have rated as “For Kids,” and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) recently introduced S 1806/HR 3773, the Child Care for Working Families Act, a bill that would provide direct financial assistance to eligible families to be used for child care expenses, ensuring that no low- or moderate-income family has to pay more than 7 percent of their income for child care -- the federally recommended maximum.
Besides helping working families pay for child care, this bill improves the quality of that care, by setting universal state quality standards for child care, offering centers quality improvement grants, and reducing the shortage of child care workers by requiring that employees are paid a living wage.
Common Sense’s Right Start Commission recommends a child-centered system in which every family has access to high-quality early learning and care programs for children age 0 to 5, and the new Murray-Scott bill would help us get to the finish line quicker.
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