Senate Child Care Proposal Could Reach 1 Million+ More Children

Washington, D.C., May 16, 2022—Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) proposed a new child care framework to be included in a budget reconciliation package. This proposal could reach over 1 million additional children just through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)—the largest source of federal funding for child care assistance. The proposal to address the nation’s ongoing child care crisis would directly benefit children, families, child care workers, and the economy by lowering costs for families, expanding the supply of quality child care and preschool, and raising wages for the early childhood workforce.

In a new state-by-state analysis of the proposal, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) provides estimates of the resources each state would get through CCDBG and the number of additional children that could be served through those investments. Investments range from $14 million in Wyoming to $1.3 billion in Texas. These resources would help serve children in every state including, for example, approximately 113,000 children in Texas and more than 96,000 children in Florida. Other components of the proposal, such as funding for preschool and the child care expansion pilot program, would further increase the number of children and families who would have expanded access and affordability to early childhood programs.

Our current system is unworkable. Families—especially those with the lowest incomes—bear high child care cost burdens. And child care early educators—a workforce that is 95 percent women and disproportionately comprised of women of color—earn unacceptably low wages. Children miss out on high-quality early experiences that support their safety, growth, and development. For the families with the lowest incomes—and particularly those who are also families of color—these challenges create significant barriers to economic opportunity. This has been created by intersecting racial, gender, and economic inequities across public and private institutions as well as decades of insufficient federal investments in child care and preschool. These combined factors have produced a crisis that requires a significant federal investment in the child care sector to begin addressing access, affordability, supply, wages, and quality.

“For decades we have failed children, parents, and early educators by underinvesting in this essential sector,” said Hannah Matthews, deputy executive director for policy at the Center for Law and Social Policy. “The proposed investment would be a crucial step toward building the child care and early education system that children and families need and deserve. Resources to make quality child care affordable for families and to raise compensation for the workforce would go a long way to begin addressing some of the shortcomings and enduring inequities in the sector.”

Specifically, the Murray-Kaine proposal includes:

  • A $72 billion investment in the existing CCDBG program to expand access to child care assistance for families with low incomes and increase the quality of all child care. The proposal includes targeted investments to expand the supply of quality child care, improve facilities, and increase compensation for early educators. For example, this proposal could reach nearly 113,000 children in Texas and more than 96,000 children in Florida.
  • A pilot program that allows states to expand CCDBG to serve families with incomes above the current income limit and cap families’ child care expenses at 7 percent of income—the federally established benchmark for affordable child care.
  • An $18 billion investment in grants to states to create and expand high-quality preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.
  • A $12 billion investment to increase the wages of Head Start teachers and staff.

As child care costs rise and providers continue to leave the sector due to inadequate wages, our nation urgently needs investments in child care and preschool. The Senate should move swiftly to include this legislative proposal in an economic package.

For state-by-state estimates of allocations and the number of children served see our new fact sheet.