Child Care for Working Families Act Offers Bold Vision for Child Care

By Shiva Sethi

On September 14, 2017, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would guarantee affordable, high-quality child care to millions of working families.

High-quality child care and early learning is essential to prepare children for success and supports parents’ employment, enabling them to provide for their families. But for many Americans, including low- and middle-income people, high-quality care is currently out of reach.

The new bill, which amends the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), provides sufficient resources to expand access to child care assistance to all families who need help. The Act would ensure that low- and moderate-income families pay no more than 7 percent of their income on child care. It also provides substantial resources to improve the quality of child care programs and build the supply of high-quality care for underserved groups, including infants and toddlers, children with disabilities, and families with care needs during nonstandard hours. Importantly, the Act supports the child care workforce. It increases training and professional development opportunities and ensures that all caregivers are paid a living wage and that their compensation is on par with K-12 educators who have similar credentials.

The bill increases Head Start funding to expand full-school-day and full-school-year programs. It also increases Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) funding to build more inclusive, high-quality child care. Lastly, the Act provides incentive funding for states to expand high-quality pre-kindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.

The Child Care for Working Families Act reflects strong research showing that children’s early life experiences significantly impact their development and success. Research also demonstrates the central role of child care in families’ lives. In addition to direct benefits for children and parents, the Act recognizes that working families’ success is critical to our economic future. Congress should support the Child Care for Working Families Act to improve child care for children, parents, and caregivers.

Read a summary of the bill.