Advocates Worry Child Care Will Be Shortchanged in Appropriations

(Excerpt)

"For those parents who are especially likely to work in jobs that have non-standard schedules, that make low wages by definition, those parents are really struggling to make their ends meet and to also get the care that they need at the times that they need, said Katherine Robbins, child care and early-education director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, an advocacy group focused on promoting policies for low-income people.

Having support through the [Child Care and Development Block Grant] really helps families to be able to fit all the puzzle pieces together to help parents work, to help parents go to school, that kind of thing, Robbins said.

But federal child care assistance, including the block grant, currently reaches only 15 percent of all children estimated to be eligible under federal rules, according to an HHS report from January.

Democrats in both chambers are interested in expanding access to child care. Sen. Murray and Rep. Bobby Scott reintroduced a bill earlier this year that would, among other changes, double the number of children eligible for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, according to advocacy groups that back the bill. But the legislation so far has mostly Democratic support, with only one Republican cosponsor in the House.

Under the House appropriations bill, the $2.4 billion increase to the block-grant program could provide an additional 301,000 children with child care assistance, according to an analysis from the Center for Law and Social Policy. But 40,500 children could lose subsidies under the Senate's proposed funding level, according to the group."

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