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Kaine, Murray, Scott Reintroduce Child Care for Working Families Act to Tackle Child Care Crisis and Get Families the Child Care & Pre-K They Need

The Child Care for Working Families Act will ensure families across America can find and afford the child care they need, dramatically expand access to high-quality preschool programs, and boost wages for early childhood workers

***WATCH: Kaine, Murray, Scott, colleagues reintroduce bill, underscore need for bold action to tackle the child care crisis***

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA-03) in reintroducing the Child Care for Working Families Act, comprehensive legislation to tackle the child care crisis and ensure families across America can find and afford the high-quality child care they need. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) joined Senator Kaine and Senator Murray in leading reintroduction of the legislation alongside 34 additional cosponsors in the Senate. Representative Wild (D-PA-07) joined Representative Scott in leading reintroduction of the legislation alongside 43 cosponsors 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 our entire economy back. Over the last three decades, the cost of child care has 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. 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.

The Child Care for Working Families Act would 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. Under the legislation, which Murray and Scott have introduced every Congress since 2017, 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.

“I hear about the child care crisis everywhere I go in Virginia,” said Senator Kaine. “Parents in every community are being locked out of the workforce because they can’t find affordable care for their kids, while critical workers who are passionate about child care are getting squeezed out of their field because of low wages. This issue is holding our families, workers, and economy back and it’s time for Congress to do more to address it. I’m proud to be fighting alongside Senator Murray for our legislation to help ensure that every family in America can get the child care they need. This bill will make child care more accessible and affordable, boost wages for child care workers, and put us on a path to universal pre-K.”

“Tackling the child care crisis isn’t just what families are counting on us to do—it’s a top economic imperative. I constantly hear from families making impossible tradeoffs to pay for child care, from parents—and too often, moms—forced to quit their jobs because they can’t find openings near them, and from child care workers struggling to just make ends meet,” said Senator Murray. “We’ve got to tackle this crisis head-on—and that’s exactly what the Child Care for Working Families Act will do. Our bill will transform child care in America—ensuring families in every part of our country can find and afford the child care they need to go to work and child care workers are paid the higher wages they deserve. Families are counting on us to deliver on child care, and this is absolutely critical for our future and our economy—let’s pass the Child Care for Working Families Act.”

“While Congress saved the child care sector from collapse during the pandemic, our economy is still forcing too many workers to choose between their jobs and caring for their children. Today, the need to overhaul our child care system is only growing, especially as our job market continues to grow at a record pace. Without investments in the care economy, these jobs will remain unfilled because too many workers, especially women, will have to remain at home and our economy will never reach its full potential,” said Ranking Member Scott. “Let’s be clear. The child care crisis cannot be solved without sustained public funding. The Child Care for Working Families Act makes the investments we need to turn our child care system around and meet the needs of children, parents, and child care workers. We must finally pass this bill and expand access to quality early learning opportunities, provide child care workers with the support they deserve, and give parents the freedom to pursue rewarding careers and contribute to our economic growth.”

“We’re facing a growing challenge in this country: too many parents are breaking the bank in order to make sure their kids are safe and taken care of. And at the same time, too many of the child care workers many American families rely on are making poverty wages,” said Leader Schumer. “That’s why today we are reintroducing the Child Care for Working Families Act – a transformative bill that supports universal preschool, ensures working families have access to these crucial programs, and guarantees that child care workers get the pay they deserve. We cannot afford to shortchange our children, and Democrats are committed to big, bold solutions.”

“The truth of the matter is that our child care and early education system in the United States is an international embarrassment,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “Today in America, child care is so outrageously expensive that having children is a leading cause of poverty. That is unacceptable. In the richest country in the history of the world; no parent should have to choose between their kids, making rent, and putting food on the table; no educator should earn poverty level wages; and no working parent should be forced out of the workforce because they can’t afford child care. Other countries around the world understand the importance of child care, of early education, and family leave. It is long past time for the United States to join them. ”

“Everywhere I go in Pennsylvania, I meet families who are struggling to find reliable child care or affordable preschool and feel like they’re on their own,” said Senator Casey. “The Child Care for Working Families Act would help more families access quality, affordable child care and support the essential workers who care for our kids. It’s long past time we take action to end our Nation’s caregiving crisis.”

“Families in Hawaii 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, Kaine, Casey, Smith, 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.”

“Child care is essential for families,” said Representative DeLauro. “It helps parents get to work. It helps our children with social and emotional learning. And it helps families thrive. I am thrilled to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to expand access to child care and to ensure families across the U.S. can afford the high-quality child care they need.”

“More than 38,000 children in Pennsylvania are waitlisted, 1,600 classrooms have closed, and hundreds of child care positions remain unfilled. In the Lehigh Valley, over 1,500 children are waitlisted, and Carbon county is classified as a child care desert. That’s why I’m so proud to be here with my colleagues to mark the introduction of the Child Care for Working Families Act,” said Representative Wild. “Child care is unaffordable for many, or simply not available—this bill will help open more care providers and lower costs for parents, capping costs at 7% of a family’s income. Not only that, but it will raise wages for the people taking care of our kids and increase retention rates for quality care providers.”

The Child Care for Working Families Act will:

  • 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 seven percent 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.

The legislation is endorsed by: AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, All Our Kin, The Center for American Progress, The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Child Care Aware of America, Community Change Action, Council for Professional Recognition, Family Value @ Work, MomsRising, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), National Education Association (NEA), National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), Oxfam, Save the Children, Save the Children Action Network, SEIU, YWCA, Zero to Three.

In the Senate, the bill is cosponsored by: Murray, Casey, Kaine, Hirono, Schumer, Sanders, Baldwin, Bennet, Blumenthal, Booker, Brown, Cantwell, Coons, Cortez Masto, Duckworth, Durbin, Feinstein, Fetterman, Gillibrand, Hassan, Heinrich, King, Klobuchar, Luján, Markey, Menendez, Merkley, Murphy, Padilla, Reed, Rosen, Schatz, Shaheen, Smith, Van Hollen, Welch, Whitehouse, and Wyden.

In the House, the bill is cosponsored by: Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Kevin Mullin, John P. Sarbanes, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Chellie Pingree, Joaquin Castro, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, Sean Casten, Julia Brownley, Hank Johnson, Eric Swalwell, Troy Carter, Jan Schakowsky, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Greg Landsman, Nikema Williams, Haley Stevens, Steve Cohen, Marcy Kaptur, Sylvia Garcia, William R. Keating, Dina Titus, Lauren Underwood, Daniel S. Goldman, Earl Blumenauer, Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Rosa L. DeLauro, Ruben Gallego, Donald Norcross, Andrea Salinas, Nydia M. Velazquez, Nanette Diaz Barragan, Sara Jacobs, Gwen Moore, Suzan Delbene, Kathy Castor, Seth Moulton, Teresa Leger Fernandez, Derek Kilmer, Terri A. Sewell, Josh Gottheimer, Colin Z. Allred, and Katherine Clark.

A fact sheet on the legislation is available HERE.

Bill text is available HERE.