Starting Early, Starting Right Act Introduced
May 06, 2008
On May 5, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) took an important step forward for low-income families by introducing the Starting Early, Starting Right Act. With the addition of $10 billion in new funds each year, the legislation will make a significant investment in the child care subsidy program in order to increase access for low-income families, raise reimbursement rates for providers, and improve the quality of care through training, monitoring, and new initiatives.
While the Child Care and Development Block Grant was scheduled to be reauthorized in 2000, it has remained low on the priority list for Congress and the President. Funding for child care assistance has been near frozen for six years, yet as the economy worsens, more families need help paying for the child care they need to go to work. Across the country, more than 360,000 children are on waiting lists for help. Many more thousands of children and families need help but do not even bother applying for assistance.
As child care resources have grown scarcer, many families struggle to find providers who will care for their children. Most states pay low rates to providers, forcing them to put off needed improvements, preventing salary increases, and making it difficult for low-income families to find high-quality caregivers in their communities.
Congress has been silent for too long regarding child care; Senator Casey s proposal should get his colleagues talking. The low-income working families of America are waiting.