Senators Urge Colleagues to Expand Child Care Assistance to Working Families

Today, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) outlined immediate federal spending priorities that would support hard-working families, including a nearly $3 billion increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to make child care more affordable. The federal government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) through December 8 for fiscal year 2018 (FY2018). Members of Congress are considering a short-term CR to give themselves additional time to negotiate a spending bill later this month that would fund the federal government for the remainder of FY2018 (through September 30, 2018).

A $2.9 billion increase  in CCDBG for the balance of FY2018 would give states the resources they need to expand the reach of CCDBG to more than 200,000 additional children and implement bipartisan reforms to improve the health, safety, and quality of child care.

Today, high-quality, affordable child care is out of reach for millions of families. Five out of six children eligible for CCDBG don’t get help due to funding shortfalls. In fact, CCDBG, the primary source of funding for direct child care assistance for low-income working families, is serving the fewest children in its history due to Congress’s failure to sufficiently fund the program.

Quality child care matters for parents and their children. Without it, parents struggle to retain work and achieve economic stability. Their children miss out on the educational and developmental benefits of quality care that prepare them for success in school and in life. When lawmakers choose to fund child care assistance, they expand economic opportunity for two generations.

CLASP is heartened to see Senators Warren and Sanders highlight the need for increased child care funding. The Senators’ funding proposal stands in direct contrast to the deeply harmful tax bill being negotiated in Congress, which would not only do little for low-income families, but also put federal funding for programs—including child care and early education programs—at risk in the future by growing the federal deficit.

Rather than supporting tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, lawmakers should provide real help to Americans struggling to make ends meet by expanding the reach of affordable child care. In addition to investing in programs that support low-income children, Congress should also make good on other opportunities to advance the wellbeing of children and youth. Without delay, Congress should ensure that children can continue to get medical care by passing a bipartisan reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and that immigrant youth have an opportunity to earn their citizenship and pursue their education and career goals through passage of a clean Dream Act. Our country is stronger when we provide pathways to opportunity for our children and youth.