Hirono, senators introduce Child Care for Working Families Act to tackle child care crisis
US Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined colleagues in reintroducing the Child Care for Working Families Act, comprehensive legislation to tackle the child care crisis. She said the measure will help to ensure families across America can find and afford the high-quality child care they need.
US Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Sen. Hirono in leading 35 of their colleagues in reintroducing the bill. The bicameral bill was led by US Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) in the House.
“Across the country, too many families cannot find—or afford—the high-quality child care they need so parents can go to work and children can thrive, and the worsening child care crisis is holding families, child care workers, businesses, and the entire economy back,” according to a news release issued by Sen. Hirono.
Over the last three decades, the cost of child care has reportedly increased by 220%, forcing families—and mothers, in particular—to make impossible choices, and more than half of all families live in child care deserts, according to the release.
Meanwhile, child care workers are struggling to make ends meet on the poverty-level wages they are paid and child care providers are struggling to simply stay afloat. The crisis—which was exacerbated by the pandemic—is costing our economy dearly, to the tune of $122 billion in economic losses each year, according to data in Sen. Hirono’s release.
The Child Care for Working Families Act seeks to tackle the child care crisis head-on: ensuring families can afford the child care they need, expanding access to more high-quality options, stabilizing the child care sector, and helping ensure child care workers taking care of our nation’s kids are paid livable wages.
The legislation will also dramatically expand access to pre-K, and support full-day, full-year Head Start programs and increased wages for Head Start workers, according to Sen. Hirono.
Under the legislation, the typical family in America will pay no more than $10 a day for child care—with many families paying nothing at all—and no eligible family will pay more than 7% of their income on child care.
The Child Care for Working Families Act seeks to implement the following:
Make child care affordable for working families:
- The typical family earning the state median income will pay about $10 a day for child care.
- No working family will pay more than 7% of their income on child care.
- Families earning below 85% of state median income will pay nothing at all for child care.
- If a state does not choose to receive funding under this program, the secretary can provide funds to localities, such as cities, counties, local governments, districts, or Head Start agencies.
Improve the quality and supply of child care for all children and expand families’ child care options by:
- Addressing child care deserts by providing grants to help open new child care providers in underserved communities.
- Providing grants to cover start-up and licensing costs to help establish new providers.
- Increasing child care options for children who receive care during non-traditional hours.
- Supporting child care for children who are dual-language learners, children who are experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
Support higher wages for child care workers:
- Child care workers would be paid a living wage and achieve parity with elementary school teachers who have similar credentials and experience.
- Child care subsidies would cover the cost of providing high-quality care.
Dramatically expand access to high-quality pre-K:
- States would receive funding to establish and expand a mixed-delivery system of high-quality preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.
- States must prioritize establishing and expanding universal local preschool programs within and across high-need communities.
- If a state does not choose to receive funding under this program, the Secretary can provide funds to localities, such as cities, counties, local governments, districts, or Head Start agencies.
Better support Head Start programs by providing the funding necessary to offer full-day, full-year programming and increasing wages for Head Start workers.
“Families in Hawaiʻi and across the country deserve to have access to high-quality, affordable child care,” said Senator Hirono. “The Child Care for Working Families Act will help address our nation’s child care crisis by capping child care costs for working families, increasing access to pre-K, and helping to ensure child care workers are paid a living wage.”
“Expanding access to quality, affordable early education has long been a top priority of mine and I am proud to join Senators Murray, Casey, Kaine, and our colleagues in reintroducing this legislation to lower costs for families, support child care workers, and help set children up for a lifetime of success,” Hirono added.