Universal Child Care Bill Offers Bold Proposal to Meet Families’ Needs

This statement can be attributed to Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy.

Washington, D.C., June 18, 2019—Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) introduced the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, which would guarantee affordable, high-quality child care for all children under age 5. In addition to making child care and early learning centers and family child care homes available to all families, the bill would invest in training, professional development, and increased compensation for the child care workforce.

All families, particularly those with low incomes, need high-quality, affordable child care that fosters children’s development and supports parents’ ability to work or go to school. Yet, affordable child care is out of reach for far too many families. Today, only 15 percent of families eligible for child care assistance get any help because of insufficient funding. When families struggle to find and afford quality care, parents may be forced to trade off child care against food, rent, medical care, or other basic necessities.

This ambitious legislation would transform the economic security of families and children while also promoting children’s healthy development. Under the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, families would pay no more than 7 percent of their income for child care—and those with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line (about $49,000 for a family of 3) would have zero cost, compared to the 18 to 30 percent of income that families in households with low incomes pay for child care today.

Greater public attention to the critical need for affordable, high-quality child care is long overdue. While child care matters for all families, it is particularly crucial for low-income families and families of color, who are most likely to earn low wages and to risk losing a job if they are unable to find stable care.

In 2018, Congress took an important step in making a significant investment in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Now is the time to build on that investment by continuing to expand CCDBG to reach more families and by seriously considering this and other child care legislation that makes great strides toward high-quality affordable child care for all families. We applaud Senator Warren and Representative Haaland for this bold proposal to address one of families’ greatest needs.

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CLASP is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions for people with low incomes. For 50 years, we've offered trusted expertise, a deeply knowledgeable staff, and practical yet visionary approaches to opportunity for all. CLASP centers the voices of people with low incomes, equips advocates with strategies that work, and helps public officials put good ideas into practice. Our solutions directly address the barriers people face because of race, ethnicity, and immigration status. For more information, visit clasp.org and follow us on Twitter @CLASP_DC.