WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to strengthen child care for working families with young children, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today joined with U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and twenty four of their colleagues in introducing the Child Care for Working Families Act, a comprehensive early learning and child care bill to ensure affordable, high-quality child care for working families across the country.

“Ensuring working parents have access to high-quality, affordable child care that meets their needs is essential to families and our economy.  For many parents, child care is their single biggest household expense.  Making child care more accessible and affordable for working parents and a safe, enriching learning environment for kids is a smart investment.  We know that early childhood is a critical time for brain development, and these early childhood programs build a strong foundation to help children excel in the classroom and beyond,” said Senator Reed.  “Our goal is nothing less than affordable and high-quality child care coverage for all.”

“At a time when far too many working families are struggling, finding quality child care that doesn’t break the bank shouldn’t be another thing keeping parents up at night,” said Senator Murray. “As a former preschool teacher, I know what quality early learning and care can do for a child’s development, so I’m proud to introduce the Child Care for Working Families Act to address our child care crisis and support access to high-quality preschool so that all children are ready for kindergarten and beyond. This is not only the right to thing to for working families, but it’s a smart investment in our children, our future, and our economy.”

The Child Care for Working Families Act would create a federal-state partnership to ensure families making less than 150 percent of their state’s median income do not pay more than seven percent of their income on child care.  The bill also supports access to high-quality preschool programs for low- and moderate-income 3- and 4-year-olds.  Finally, the bill would support our nation’s child care workforce by significantly improving wages and training for teachers and caregivers.

SUMMARY: The Child Care for Working Families Act

•  Establishes a new federal-state partnership to provide high-quality, affordable child care from birth through age 13.

•  Doubles the number of children eligible for child care assistance, and ensure all those who are eligible have the ability to enroll their child in a quality program.

•  Provides incentives and funding for states to create high-quality preschool programs for low- and moderate-income 3- and 4-year-olds during the school day, while providing a higher matching rate for programs for infants and toddlers, who are often harder and more expensive to care for.

•  Increases workforce training and compensation, including by ensuring that all child care workers are paid a living wage and early childhood educators are provided parity with elementary school teachers with similar credentials and experience.

•  Improves care in a variety of settings, including addressing the needs of family, friend, and neighbor care and care during non-traditional hours to help meet the needs of working families.

•  Builds more inclusive, high-quality child care providers for children with disabilities, and infants and toddlers with disabilities, including by increasing funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

•  Helps all Head Start programs meet the new expanded duration requirements and provide full-day, full-year programming.

Senator Reed is a member of the Appropriations Committee and helped successfully provide $250 million to continue support for Preschool Development Grants in the latest Appropriations bill and has also worked to boost federal funding for Head Start.

“I am proud to help introduce this bill today.  Investing in preschool and providing parents with access to high-quality, affordable child care is critical to generating the best outcomes in education, health, and economic well-being,” stated Senator Reed.

In addition to Reed, Murray, and Casey, the bill is backed by Senators: Hirono (D-HI), Franken (D-MN), Schumer (D-NY), Leahy (D-VT), Feinstein (D-CA), Wyden (D-OR), Durbin (D-IL), Menendez (D-NJ), Klobuchar (D-MN), Merkley (D-OR), Gillibrand (D-NY), Blumenthal (D-CT), Baldwin (D-WI), Murphy (D-CT), Heinrich (D-NM), Warren (D-MA), Markey (D-MA), Booker (D-NJ), Van Hollen (D-MD), Duckworth (D-IL), Hassan (D-NH), Harris (D-CA), Udall (D-NM), and Brown (D-OH).