What They’re Saying: Child Care for Working Families Act
“…the United States has never meaningfully invested in architecting a high-quality, affordable early learning system to support all families. The Child Care for Working Families Act would break that precedent by making child care affordable for all families”
Washington, D.C. – Across the country, too many families are struggling to find quality, affordable, accessible child care. To address these challenges, Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, comprehensive legislation to ensure working families can access high-quality, affordable child care and improve wages for child care workers.
Here’s what leading child care, education, policy groups, and lawmakers are saying about the bill:
Child Care Aware of America: “The Child Care for Working Families Act would make progress toward solving some of the most critical challenges facing the child care system today, and Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) is pleased to support the bill as it is reintroduced. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) are true champions for our children, families, providers and communities across the country.
“The Child Care for Working Families Act invests in growing an affordable, accessible and equitable child care system that values the work of caregivers and serves communities of all kinds. It establishes subsidy rates that would cover the true cost of providing high-quality care, allowing for higher wages for providers and more inclusive options for children. It centers parent voices in decision-making around how states distribute child care funds. It supports the child care resource and referral agencies that serve as essential hubs for information and resources in communities across the country. Ultimately, the Child Care for Working Families Act will invest in an early learning and care system that is better designed to support working families.”
Moms Rising Together: “If we are to have a just, equitable, robust recovery from the pandemic, lawmakers must finally invest in our child care system and in the care infrastructure our country needs. That is why we are so pleased that Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act today. It provides a comprehensive solution to our child care crisis by making child care affordable for working families, expanding access to pre-school programs, improving the quality of care, and increasing compensation and professional training for child care workers, who are mostly women and disproportionately women of color and who have been paid poverty wages and denied benefits for too long. America’s moms want Congress to pass the Child Care for Working Families Act immediately, so President Biden can sign it into law.”
“The pandemic has exacerbated our country’s child care crisis, forcing 32 percent of women ages 25 - 34 out of the labor force, with Black women and Latinas facing compounded harms due to long standing structural racism. Today, women’s workforce participation is at a 30-year low, which is catastrophic for families and our economy. We cannot recover without the kind of investment the Child Care for Working Families Act supports.”
Center for American Progress: “Child care is an essential lifeline for working families and the U.S. economy. The American Rescue Plan recognized this truth by providing critical resources to save this bedrock industry from the brink of collapse. But the United States has never meaningfully invested in architecting a high-quality, affordable early learning system to support all families—leaving many struggling to find or afford care, punishing early educators with poverty wages, and serving just 1 in 7 subsidy-eligible children in America.
“The Child Care for Working Families Act would break that precedent by making child care affordable for all families by capping the amount they spend on child care at 7 percent of their income, with the majority of eligible families paying no more than $45 per week. The bill would also invest in the child care workforce and promote early learning options for low- and middle-income families across the entirety of the early education spectrum—including infants and toddlers, whose care is often more costly and difficult to find, and preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.”
National Women’s Law Center: “This vital investment in our nation’s child care system will bring us closer to an economy that truly values the daily labor of working families and caregivers. Child care and the workers who provide it – nearly all women and disproportionately women of color – are the backbone of our entire economy, from the bottom lines of corporations to the daily lives of millions of families. Yet even amidst a pandemic that has made our dependence on child care all the more obvious, families are still struggling to cover its costs while care workers themselves receive poverty-level wages. By passing the Child Care for Working Families Act, Congress can make high-quality, affordable child care a reality for millions while ensuring the skilled workers who provide it are paid a living wage.”
The Center for Law and Social Policy: “This last year has demonstrated the vital importance of the child care sector – as the pandemic-driven devastation of the sector has undercut families’ economic stability, women’s labor force participation, and the national economy,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “By providing affordable, quality child care, the Child Care for Working Families Act would bolster the wellbeing of children, families, and early educators in communities across the country. In addition to helping families, child care is critical to our economy, gender justice, and racial equity. Child care has always been essential, and it’s past time to make affordable care for families a reality.”
American Federation of Teachers: “No parent should have to choose among basic necessities like food, rent, healthcare and child care, but too many face that choice daily, and many can’t get back to work because of it. Access to affordable child care was at a crisis point before the pandemic; the extra strain of COVID-19 has revealed just how broken our child care system is—for kids, parents and workers alike. A child’s academic, social and emotional trajectory begins in these younger years, and as a society, we must create systems to support that growth.
“While the American Rescue Plan made the largest investment in child care in our nation’s history, this investment was an emergency measure to get families and early education programs through the toughest parts of the pandemic. The Child Care for Working Families Act responds directly to the child care crisis; the public investments will make child care and pre-K a more affordable reality for families. The bill expands preschool programs so that every kid in this country has a shot at success before setting foot in kindergarten, and it creates a stronger career path with higher compensation for early childhood educators. I thank Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) for their ongoing leadership in recognizing that educating and caring for our kids starts at birth.”
Parents Together: “Expanding access to quality child care and making it more affordable for working families is critical to the success of our nation’s families, America’s kids, and our economic security. We applaud Senator Murray and Rep. Scott for their comprehensive approach to our national childcare crisis.
“Right now, the lack of quality, affordable child care is a massive challenge for families and a huge drag on our economy. During the pandemic, this has only gotten worse--parents reported that 42% of families had lost income when they had to stop working and provide child care. These same families were still paying exorbitant costs to hold their children's spots at the few quality child care centers available in their communities. In order to get people back to work, and ensure that our kids are set up for success - we need bold investments to support families and make sure quality childcare is accessible to all.
“This legislation, coupled with making permanent the Child Checks that come from the monthly expanded child tax credit, would together create the single largest investments that our country has ever made in our children’s future--one that will pay dividends for generations to come.
“We urge Congress to quickly take up this important legislation and move swiftly to ensure its passage.”
Third Way: “Lack of child care is now the #3 most reported reason for not working, barely eclipsed by pandemic-related layoffs and furloughs due to reduced business. That is why we are thrilled to see continued leadership by House and Senate Democrats to take bold steps to fix child care in America. The Child Care for Working Families Act, introduced today by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), and their colleagues, is a comprehensive effort to help families afford exorbitant child care by capping costs while delivering higher compensation for the low-wage workers, often women of color, who work in this industry. The bill advocates both for working parents by promising higher-quality child care services and for child care workers by mandating wage parity with elementary school teachers across the country.”
“The necessity of this bill cannot be overstated. Child care, especially after the pandemic, is in crisis. We recently found that 35 states are seeing an increase in parents dropping out of the labor force due to lack of child care—a 36% increase since late April, to the tune of 1.2 million workers. The child care industry deserved special attention before the pandemic and certainly needs it now. The Child Care for Working Families Act is a huge step in the right direction and can help us right the ship in 2021.”
The Century Foundation: “The bill treats early educators and child care staff with respect and dignity for their valuable and complex work, paying them living wages and ensuring parity with elementary school teachers. Child care is one of the lowest-paid professions in the United States. Wages for providers average less than $13 per hour, and recent data show that over half of child care workers were enrolled in at least one public assistance or support program. CCWFA requires that states include the cost of paying living wages and salary parity in developing child care cost estimations so that the subsidies paid by the government will include the amount necessary to ensure early educators are paid well.”
“The CCWFA will provide crucial support for children’s healthy development. The first years of a child’s life are the period of the most rapid brain development and lay the foundation for all future learning. The care children receive during these years profoundly shapes their early experiences during a critical time in their development. This bill will ensure that, regardless of economic status, race, zip code, language, or ability, every child will have access to the resources to build a strong foundation.”
“The CCWFA would provide our nation with comprehensive, and utterly crucial, expansions to its infrastructure—because infrastructure is what care work is. It’s the scaffolding that holds up the rest of the economy by supporting the labor force participation of all caregivers, especially mothers. The CCWFA is also a rare “win for all” policy: the pathway to progress on gender, racial, and income equality; healthy child development and family well-being; educational outcomes; and economic growth and prosperity.”
ZERO TO THREE: “In today’s America, it shouldn’t be this hard for parents to obtain high-quality, affordable care for their babies and toddlers. The Child Care for Working Families Act is a landmark bill that addresses both the high costs and limited supply of quality care that plagues parents with young children in this country, while also investing critical resources in supporting the early educators who do the essential work of caring for our children. And considering how many early educators are women of color, the bill will make tremendous contributions to addressing racial equity throughout the country. Simply put, this will make a remarkable difference in the lives of thousands of young families and early educators across the nation.
“In laying out a comprehensive plan to address our country’s child care crisis, this legislation provides states with particularly robust funding to improve infant-toddler services, as well as the tools they need to build a better compensated and trained workforce - an essential ingredient for the high-quality care that infants and toddlers need. We are also pleased that the bill includes grants specifically designed to increase the supply of child care, funding to support high quality care options for infants and toddlers with disabilities, and increased support for early childhood mental health consultation.
“We are grateful to Senator Murray and Representative Scott for their leadership on the Child Care for Working Families Act, and we urge their Congressional colleagues to support and swiftly pass this critical legislation.”
First Five Years Fund: “For too many families, high-quality child care was out of reach even before the pandemic because it simply became too expensive. Without support, working families have been forced to find alternatives, sacrificing quality or leaving work entirely,” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling.
“Now more than ever, lawmakers must support child care providers, working families, and young children by ensuring high-quality child care is affordable and early educators and care providers are respected for their important work. To resolve a crisis like this, we need bold, innovative solutions like the Child Care for Working Families Act. We are grateful to Senator Murray and Congressman Scott for their steadfast support for working families and children, and we look forward to working with bipartisan child care champions on Capitol Hill to ensure early learning and care opportunities are available to families with young children who need it.”
Democratic Women’s Caucus (DWC) Co-Chairs Congresswomen Lois Frankel (FL-21), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Jackie Speier (CA-14), and Vice Chairs Congresswomen Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29): “The child care industry was hit hard by the pandemic. We have heard from so many providers who have had to lay off workers, reduce the number of available slots, or close completely. This landmark legislation will create 700,000 new good-paying child care jobs and provide a safe place for working families to send their children. That will enable over 1 million parents, many of whom are women and women color, to return to the workforce and strengthen our economy as we continue to Build Back Better.”
Contact: Democratic Press Office, 202-226-0853
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