Support Affordable Child Care for Working Families
For most working parents with young children, finding affordable and high-quality care for their infants and toddlers is a significant financial strain, if not altogether impossible. Not only do one out of two Americans reside in "child care deserts" with limited or no access to licensed, high-quality care, but the cost of care when it is available can exceed that of a four-year state college.
The Child Care for Working Families Act introduced by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Congressman Bobby Scott, D-Va., would reduce child care costs for families and take steps to improve the quality of care for our youngest kids.
What You Need to Know:
- In 2016, the cost of infant care in 49 states plus the District of Columbia exceeded the federal standard for affordable child care (7 percent of state median income for a two-parent family).
- States have inconsistent and sometimes low standards for child care staff. Only 11 states require child care center staff to complete a vocational training program, and 10 have no requirements at all for center staff.
- Child care workers are among the lowest-paid U.S. workers -- in 2016, the average annual salary for U.S. child care staff was just over $22,000, with workers in some states making as little as $18,800. This has created a labor shortage, with only 2.2 million workers caring for nearly 15 million children under the age of six.
- Current federal efforts to ease the financial burden of child care have been insufficient. According to the federal Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, only 15 percent of the 14.2 million kids eligible for the main source of funding for low-income families, known as Child Care and Development Block Grant, benefited from it.
What the Child Care for Working Families Act Does:
- Guarantees that low- and moderate-income parents don't have to pay more than 7 percent of their income on child care by providing financial assistance on a sliding scale to eligible families.
- Prioritizes financial assistance to families living in underserved areas and who have infants or toddlers with disabilities.
- Mandates that states pay child care workers a living wage and provide information on training opportunities for center staff.
- Offers quality improvement grants to child care centers to ensure that all kids are able to access high-quality care.