June 18, 2019

Massachusetts Elected and Community Leaders Support Senator Warren's Newly-Introduced Bill to Provide Universal Child Care and Early Learning to All Families

Senator Warren and Congresswoman Haaland unveiled the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives; "As the wealthiest country in the world, access to affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right for all families rather than a privilege for only the rich."

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Vice Chair of the Majority Leader's Task Force on Families and Children Living in Poverty, today unveiled the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, a comprehensive and bicameral bill that would provide millions of families with free, high-quality child care and early learning options and ensure that every family in the country can affordably access these services. Joining the legislation as cosponsors are Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), John Larson (D-Conn.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), and Stephen Horsford (D-Nev.).

Over the past generation, wages have effectively remained flat while the cost of child care has skyrocketed. The average annual cost of infant center care in Massachusetts is $20,000, or almost $1,600 a month, higher than the cost of in-state public college tuition. Only one in five families in Massachusetts can access affordable infant care, and single parents in Massachusetts spend more than half of their income on infant center care.

This lack of access to high-quality, affordable child care prevents parents from fully participating in the workforce, holding them back from career and educational opportunities and placing a drag on our entire economy. Lack of affordable, high-quality care also means many children in the U.S. start kindergarten without the skills they need to reach their full potential.

The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act would benefit about 100,000 low-income children in Massachusetts, and also thousands of families above the poverty line. The legislation would ensure that families across the Commonwealth have access to high-quality and affordable child care and early learning, by funding a system of locally-run, affordable, and high-quality child care programs inspired by the bipartisan Comprehensive Child Development Bill of 1971, which was vetoed by President Nixon. Senator Warren's proposal builds on the successes of both the federal Head Start program and the U.S. Department of Defense military child care program. 

"As the wealthiest country in the world, access to affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right for all families rather than a privilege for only the rich," said Senator Warren. "Our legislation would guarantee all parents affordable access to safe and nurturing child care and early learning opportunities for their kids."

"Childcare and early learning should not be a luxury that only people with money have access to, but right now that's the status quo in this country. I know what it's like to struggle to make ends meet as a parent - I cleaned at my daughters pre-school so she could have early learning opportunities - that's not who we should be as a country," said Congresswoman Deb Haaland. "If we're going to get serious about ending the cycle of poverty in New Mexico and the entire country, we need to invest in universal childcare and early learning. The bill Senator Warren and I are introducing today is a bold and comprehensive proposal to remove barriers so moms and dads can take those extra classes at the university or community college, or work to get that promotion without the burden of childcare on their shoulders while ensuring children have the care they need early in life."

The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act has been endorsed by numerous organizations, elected officials, and policymakers across Massachusetts:

"In order to secure true opportunity and equity for every child, we must make substantial investments in early education and childcare. I enthusiastically support Senator Warren's proposal because it would achieve the goal of providing universal access to affordable, high-quality child care and early education for all families in Massachusetts and across our nation." -- State Senator Jason Lewis, Fifth Middlesex District and Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education

"Senator Warren's Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act is a welcome proposal to expand access to high quality, affordable early education for children across the country. In my time as House Chair of the Education Committee in the Massachusetts Legislature, I have viewed quality early education as the most effective way to ensure all children start their K-12 education ready to learn. Legislation like Senator Warren's bill is an important first step in creating a level playing field for all students so they may succeed in school and beyond." -- State Representative Alice H. Peisch, 14th Norfolk District and House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education

"Childcare and pre-school programs help working families by providing children with the care and early education they need to develop critical social and learning skills that have a major impact on them as they grow up, as well as help identify areas where children may be falling behind. Universal child care also provides the welcome security for working parents that their child is in a safe and secure environment, and that is affordable, reducing a potential financial burden that too many American families face today, including in Massachusetts. I applaud Senator Warren for introducing this bill to make affordable child care and early education a reality for all American families." -- State Senator Jamie Eldridge, Middlesex and Worcester District

"I'm grateful to Senator Warren for this bold and desperately needed proposal. We know high-quality pre-kindergarten education opens the door to a lifetime of benefits. Unfortunately, the current system is too expensive and leaves too many families out altogether, holding us back as a Commonwealth. Senator Warren's proposal will open doors for countless numbers of my constituents and lift our communities in the process." -- State Senator Eric P. Lesser, First Hampden and Hampshire District

"The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act is the latest example of Senator Warren's bold vision for supporting our communities' families.  While early education is instrumental for our children's future, access to quality, affordable child care continues to be out of reach for far too many of our nation's families.  Senator Warren's proposal will ensure that every child born in our great country has the same opportunities to thrive." -- State Representative Jack Patrick Lewis, 7th Middlesex District

"I applaud Senator Warren for introducing the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act. Study after study has proven that early education provides positive, long-term benefits to children's social and educational wellbeing, and it is a highly effective tool to close the achievement gap. This bill will benefit families in my district, across the Commonwealth, and across the U.S. We all owe the Senator a debt of gratitude for her attention and dedication to this issue." -- State Representative Sarah K. Peake, Fourth Barnstable District

"Senator Warren's plan to give all children equal access to education and all families the same opportunities is one that I believe in and one that would work for my district. In a world where economic disparity is only worsening, it is time to reverse course. In Massachusetts, our state constitution protects the right to education, but we must go further, acknowledge the research, and include early childhood care and education in that formula." -- State Representative Lindsay N. Sabadosa, First Hampshire District. Read the full statement here.

"Ensuring access (to) childcare helps everyone open the doors to economic competitiveness, learning readiness, and equality of opportunity. Senator Warren's Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act will help communities, families, and individuals all over our nation support economic growth and reduce economic disparities by streamlining access to child care programs, ensuring those programs are high quality and affordable, and by building on existing programs such as the recently announced preschool expansion initiative currently underway in North Adams." -- Thomas W. Bernard, Mayor of North Adams

"In my capacity as Mayor of Easthampton, I write today in strong support of (Senator Warren's) Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act. Regardless of income or family structure, all children fare better when exposed to high - interest lessons and activities. Due to the fundamental economic challenge of scarcity, early education programming is inconsistent across Western Massachusetts. Current child care programs are challenged to provide curriculum and professional development informed by best practice and research. Childcare options are based on a child's zip code and resulting funding stream for daycare dictate what the child's day looks like regardless of need. Child care access should be universal to address all students and their family's needs consistently." -- Nicole LaChapelle, Mayor of Easthampton. Read the full letter here.

"As a father, social worker for at-risk youth, and Mayor, the needs of children and families are at the forefront of my work. Senator Warren's proposed Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act would put into practice what we service providers have long believed, that children and families deserve a strong start in life to realize a brighter and more equitable future, a goal I have been working toward every day at the local level. The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act is yet another example of the focused and progressive policy-setting that we have come to expect from Senator Warren, and would send a clear message to families across America that we are committed to providing for our youth. I look forward to giving the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act my full support." -- Marc McGovern, Mayor of Cambridge

"Across every corner of Boston and beyond, families are struggling to find affordable, accessible child care. As a mom to two young boys and a City Councilor who has heard the stories of so many parents sacrificing to make it until kids are old enough for free Kindergarten, I know how broken our system is. Our work at the city level won't be enough without federal investment. With this legislation, moms and dads will be able to stay in the workforce, child care professionals will earn dignified pay, and our kids will reap the benefits of earlier support for learning and growth. Senator Warren has been a leader on this issue for a long time, and I'm so proud of all that she has delivered for working families in Massachusetts, fighting for increases in childcare development block grants and investments to lift up our childcare work force, primarily women and women of color. This plan will be transformational for families across America, and it's the best investment we could make in our future." -- Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu

"Coalition for Social Justice is pleased to hear that Senator Warren will be prioritizing early education and care for all.  It's a vital policy that will support parents, aide in the healthy development of children and help boost our economy." -- Deb Fastino, Executive Director of the Coalition for Social Justice

"The Care Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts provides quality secondary and post-secondary education to women involved in the welfare system, women who are managing the challenges poverty presents.  One of the supports we provide is onsite quality day care.  Stable, safe, affordable child care is essential for the success of these women and their children.   Without it these families will be relegated to a life of poverty and unrealized human potential.   Universal child care is a critically important tool for our nation's growth and development.  We wholeheartedly endorse Elizabeth Warren's Universal Child Care Plan." -- Anne Teschner, Executive Director, The Care Center, Holyoke

"We are thrilled by the Senator's proactiveness(.) This initiative is exactly what is needed to help the hard-working American families; it will assure the leveling of the playing field, guaranteeing an early start for the children in our community." -- Necy Lopes, President of the Board of Directors, Cape Verdean Association of Brockton

The following also endorse the legislation: Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, MA; Paul Heroux, Mayor of Attleboro, MA; David Narkewicz, Mayor of Northampton, MA; Joseph Petty, Mayor of Worcester, MA; MA State Representative Jon Santiago, 9th Suffolk District; Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell; Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards; Winthrop Town Manager Austin Faison; and Community Action Programs Inter-City Inc. of Chelsea.

The bill has also been endorsed by organizations, elected officials, and policymakers in New Mexico. Read their statements of support (here).

The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act:

  • Ensures universal access: This legislation provides a mandatory federal investment to establish and support a network of locally-run Child Care and Early Learning Centers and Family Child Care Homes so that every family, regardless of their income or employment, can access high-quality, affordable child care options for their children from birth to school entry.
  • Guarantees affordability: Families below 200% of the federal poverty line (about $51,500 for a family of four) could access these child care options at zero cost. Families with higher incomes would pay a subsidized fee on a sliding scale based on their income, as in the military child care program. No family would pay more than 7% of their income for these public child care options.
  • Invests in child care workers: The legislation ensures parity by requiring that wages and benefits for child care workers be comparable to those of similarly-credentialed local public school teachers, and invests in worker training and professional development modeled after the military child care program.
  • Provides high-quality, essential developmental services: Centers and Family Child Care Homes will meet high-quality standards based on current U.S. military child care and the Head Start program standards. Providers would receive support and time to meet new requirements, which would focus on early learning and social-emotional development. Like Head Start, the program would offer a full range of comprehensive mental and physical health, dental, and other services to children who need them in a safe and nurturing environment that promotes children's holistic growth and development.
  • Includes pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) educational services: The network of Centers and Family Child Care Homes would provide pre-K curriculum and educational services for children before they enter kindergarten. This legislation would also incentivize states and cities to expand their investments in early childhood education.
The bill was also endorsed by a number of national advocacy and social justice organizations:

"High-quality and affordable child care is a fundamental building block to achieving gender justice in this country. It ensures parents can get and keep jobs, that children start off with the tools they need to thrive, and that child care workers are paid a wage that reflects the enormous contribution they make to our society and economy. The National Women's Law Center is excited to endorse the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, which brings these values together and ensures that more women and families will have greater economic stability and opportunity." -- Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women's Law Center

"I applaud the work by Senator Warren and Representative Haaland to ensure that every child, regardless of background or social status, has equal access to the high-quality, affordable child care and education opportunities that lay the foundation for our children's success in school and in life." -- Lily Eskelsen García, President of the National Education Association

"In addition to providing for universal access to child care and early education, the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act would invest in child care workers through higher, professional wages and better access to professional development and training opportunities. The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act will help provide the educational and developmental experiences, support, and nurturing that all children should have-the things we know will prepare them for the great futures they deserve." -- Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations at the National Education Association

"Ask any parents about their financial worries, and they are certain to put the rising cost of child care high on their list. Parents are caught in a bind-they need to work to support their kids, but more and more of their paychecks are going to child care. That's money families could be spending directly on their children or saving for college. And the astronomical cost of child care is keeping more and more parents, especially mothers, out of the workforce. In fact, child care is more expensive than the cost of college tuition in 28 states. This is bad for children, bad for families and bad for our economy. Sen. Warren and Rep. Haaland know what it's like to balance work and child care- they have been in the same situation as millions of parents. Sen. Warren and Rep. Haaland's Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act of 2019 would put us on a path to guaranteeing that every family in America has access to high-quality, affordable child care options the same way that every family has access to a neighborhood public school. And it would ensure child care workers have a voice to advocate for their profession and for what kids need, and to earn wages that enable them to support their own families." -- Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers

"For two decades, as Chief Executive Officer of All Our Kin, I have worked to increase the supply, quality, and sustainability of community-based child care programs, including high quality home-based care. For children and families to succeed, we need high-quality child care that meets the varying needs of today’s working families and gives parents the power to make meaningful choices about how and where their children are cared for. This bill represents an investment too long overdue; it is time to make child care a national priority and to include family child care in our menu of solutions." -- Jessica Sager, Chief Executive Officer of All Our Kin

"I write to applaud (Senator Warren and Congresswoman Haaland's) efforts through the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act to address the need for high-quality, affordable child care, one of the biggest challenges to working families with very young children, and consequently, to the wellbeing of our nation's future workforce. The bill recognizes that all families, regardless of income, need support to access and afford high-quality child care and would help ensure that no family pays more than they can afford." -- Matthew Melmed, Executive Director of Zero to Three. Read the full letter of support here.

"The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is excited to support the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act and is grateful to Senator Warren and Representative Haaland for elevating this issue that's critical to so many. We applaud them for introducing this ambitious legislation that would transform the economic security of families and children. All families, particularly families with low incomes, need high-quality, affordable child care that fosters children's development and supports parents' ability to work or go to school. Yet, affordable, high-quality child care is out of reach for far too many families. We look forward to working with Congress to make affordable child care a reality." -- Olivia Golden, Executive Director of Center for Law and Social Policy

"It's already hard enough for working families to make ends meet, let alone afford the extraordinary cost of quality childcare. Senator Warren's plan provides much-needed relief to millions of hardworking families who are falling behind in an economy that overwhelmingly favors the wealthy. It's time to ensure that all families have access to affordable childcare and that providers of that care are paid a fair wage for the important work they do." -- Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

"Research shows that effective, affordable early care and education has beneficial multi-generation effects, helping parents enter the workforce, gain critical skills and be self-sufficient while providing their children the early developmental resources they need to succeed in school and life.  Access to these resources supports families and the future of our families, workforce and country." -- James Heckman, Nobel Laureate economist

"This proposal represents an extraordinary vision for meeting our nation's neglected early learning and child care needs. It would create and improve hundreds of thousands of jobs and would reduce persistent racial and gender inequality holding back millions of adults and children alike. An ambitious plan like this would help secure our nation's economic future and should be core to a new social contract with families and communities." -- Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Co-Executive Director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality

"This proposal is a thoughtful, ambitious attempt to deal with two problems plaguing the child care market: the high cost of care experienced by many families and the low quality of services offered by many child care providers.  By creating a system of publicly supported child care--in which generous financial assistance is offered in tandem with strong quality standards--this plan effectively places the dual policy goals of cost reduction and quality improvement on equal footing. As a result, it will enable more parents to enter the labor force while improving children's school readiness." -- Chris Herbst, Associate Professor at the Arizona State University School of Public Affairs

"Rigorous research makes clear that investments in children are of key importance to promoting economic and educational opportunity.  Such investments also improve physical and mental health for our next generation.  As a new parent returning to work, I know firsthand the importance of quality, affordable childcare. Expanding access to such programs, and improving wages for and skills of child care workers, is a smart policy solution to ensure every child and family has the high-quality early care and education necessary for success." -- Alison Baulos, Executive Director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development at The University of Chicago

"Much of our social policy in the realm of early childcare still relies on an outdated model of marriage and family--two income earners with dad going to work all day and mom staying home. Whether we like it or not, this is not reality.  The bulk of childcare duties rests on mothers who must stop their education and career advancement to care for children. We are losing a lot of talent this way. In the alternative, so much lifetime development happens during the ages of 0-5 and many children are falling through the cracks.  This is especially true for many LMI communities, especially black and brown communities that have inadequate early childhood services.  This bill will be a boon for those communities... It will allow mothers and fathers who want to work and go to school to do so and it will provide a safe and nourishing environment for the future. This is the most important issue we can be focusing on right now in the realm of gender equality." -- Mehrsa Baradaran, Author of The Color of Money

Service Employees International Union, National Partnership for Women & Families, and Community Change Action also endorse the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act.

Senator Warren first announced her proposal in February 2019. In October 2017, Senator Warren delivered a speech at the National Women's Law Center in which she spoke about her experiences as a mother juggling school, work, and raising her two young children, and about the urgent need for government to help lower the cost of child care and truly invest in America's children.

Senator Warren and Representative Haaland previously worked together to introduce a bill to address unsafe military housing, and on legislation to combat the opioid and substance use epidemic.