Senators Introduce New Bill To Increase Funding For Child Care
Oct 06, 2008
Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) have introduced the Child Care Investment Act of 2008. This legislation would increase federal funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which helps low-income families across the nation afford quality child care. Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is also a co-sponsor of the legislation.
In statements, both Senators Lincoln and Smith acknowledged the importance of access to child care for working families, especially in these difficult economic times. Senator Lincoln noted that Particularly in tough economic times, the costs of child care can place a strain on household budgets that are already burdened by the rising costs of fuel and other basic necessities. Senator Smith agreed, With American families under increasing strain in these difficult economic times, now more than ever we must do more to ensure that children are placed in safe child care settings that will encourage their development. By increasing funding and encouraging states to improve the quality of child care they provide, we will be able to help many more children and provide their hard-working parents with a sense of relief.
This bill is an important acknowledgement that funding for CCDBG has been stagnant for too many years and that lack of investment is hurting children and their families. As members of the Senate Finance Committee, Senators Lincoln and Smith have authority and opportunity to see that this bill moves forward and increases access to child care help for low-income working families.
Lincoln and Smith s legislation would raise CCDBG mandatory funding from its current level of $2.9 billion to $4 billion. The bill encourages states to invest in child care improvement initiatives by requiring states to comply with two or more of the following to receive the full increase in funding:
- Develop and implement or maintain a Quality Rating and Improvement System for child care centers and family child care homes that leads to nationally recognized high standards, and provide assistance for education, training and compensation initiatives to assist child care providers.
- Create or support a statewide network of infant and toddler specialists.
- Require at least 40 hours of appropriate health, safety and child development training prior to employment with or operation as a provider.
- Ensure that licensed and registered center and family child care providers are visited by monitoring staff at least twice per year, once on an unannounced basis.
- Pay reimbursement rates for providers serving children in the subsidy system at rates that meet or exceed the 75th percentile of a current market rate survey.
The bill is an important first step towards reinvesting in the child care system that children need to be successful and that their families need to go to work every day. The cost of child care is skyrocketing, and families need help in order to keep their children in safe and stable child care settings that meet their needs. The Child Care Investment Act of 2008 sends a message that families should be our nation s priority in these difficult times.