U.S. Sen. Hirono reintroduces legislation to tackle child care crisis
U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined colleagues in reintroducing the Child Care for Working Families Act that tackles the child care crisis.
Hirono said the legislation would ensure families can afford the child care they need; expand access to more high-quality options; stabilize the child care sector; and help child care workers earn a livable wage.
The legislation would also dramatically expand access to pre-K, and support full-day, full-year Head Start programs and increased wages for Head Start workers.
U.S. senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Hirono in leading 35 colleagues in reintroducing the bill. The bicameral bill was led in the House by U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA).
“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,” Hirono said in a news release.
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. More than 50% of 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 was exacerbated by the pandemic and is costing $122 billion in economic losses each year, according to the release.
The Child Care for Working Families Act seeks to implement the following:
- 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.
- Address 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
- 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.
The legislation calls for dramatically expanding 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.