Sen. Warren Unveils New Child Care Legislation
The Child Care for Every Community Act would cap the cost of child care for every family across Massachusetts.
Boston, MA -- United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led over three dozen lawmakers in unveiling new legislation that would expand access to affordable child care to every American family, offer high-quality early education to every child, and create good jobs for our early educators. The move follows Sen. Warren’s decision to bring Eugénie Ouedraogo, a childcare worker based in Taunton, Massachusetts, as her guest to President Biden’s State of the Union address.
Joining the legislation as cosponsors are Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
The bill is being introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) and is cosponsored by Representatives Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), delegate to the United States House of Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton, Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich), Greg Casar (D-Texas), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Greg Landsman (D-Ohio), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (D-Ga.), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Pa.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).
The bill would use a sliding scale to ensure that fees are affordable based on families income, with higher-income families paying no more than seven percent of their income, and lower income families making less than 75% of their state median income would be fully subsidized. Half of families nationwide would pay no more than $10 a day for child care. In Massachusetts, where many families pay the highest child care fees in the nation, a family with an infant and a 2-year-old making $130,125 would pay no more than $10 per day, or $200 per month, down from the current average cost of $3,128 per month.
Lack of access to high-quality, affordable child care prevents parents from fully participating in the workforce, holding them back from career opportunities, making it hard for businesses to find workers, 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.
“A lack of child care is holding back our economy and keeping parents out of the workforce – it’s giving lie to the notion that there’s equal opportunity in our country,” said Senator Warren. “We can’t build a future by shortchanging our babies and families. The more we invest in child care, the better for our families, our small businesses and our entire economy.”
“Families across the country are facing an impossible choice between taking time off work to care for their child or shelling out for high-cost child care. Our economy, our families, and our children are stronger when all families have access to high-quality child care,” said Senator Markey. “This extends to early educators, who are underpaid and overworked as they take on the awesome responsibility of caring for our nation’s children from infancy to adolescence. Early educators, parents and guardians are heroes, and even heroes need help.”
“Our country has a child care crisis – the cost of early education and care programs is out of reach for far too many families, women in particular are being held back from re-entering the workforce, and our hardworking care providers are struggling to make ends meet,” said Governor Maura T. Healey. “I’m grateful to Senator Warren and Congresswoman Sherrill for their leadership on the Child Care for Every Community Act, which will be transformative in helping families afford child care and supporting providers.”
“I am so grateful that Senator Warren is reintroducing transformational early education and care legislation in the form of the Child Care for Every Community Act. We know how important early education and care is, both to addressing the ‘she-cession’ that worsened during the pandemic and preparing our children for a lifetime of learning and success. Simply put, it is past time to update the way we imagine and support this crucial sector, and I’m thrilled to have Senator Warren as a partner in the fight to get this done at the federal level,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka.
“We have an obligation to guarantee that not only do all our children and families have affordable access to high-quality early education, but also that our childcare workforce has livable wages and economic mobility. In Boston, through the work of our Office of Early Childhood, we are committed to continuing to build on work to increase the number of seats and enhance opportunities for our workers. I’m so grateful to Senator Warren for her tireless advocacy to support our littlest learners and parents throughout a child’s earliest years,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.
“High-quality, affordable early education and child care enhances the cognitive and social-emotional development of young children, enables parents to work and improves families’ economic well-being, and helps employers that are struggling with a workforce shortage,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “I greatly appreciate the extraordinary efforts of Senator Warren as a national leader who is spearheading the fight to bring universal early education and child care opportunities to the American people.”
"Working families need child care that won't break the bank. Here in Massachusetts, I'm proud to sponsor a bill that would provide universal child care options to families in every community," said Representative Adrian Madaro. "But Massachusetts can't do this alone. The Child Care for Every Community Act will provide critical federal partnership and funding that empowers local providers and makes child care available and affordable to every family that needs it. I'm grateful to Senator Warren for her leadership and advocacy on this important issue, and I'm excited to see her reintroduce the Child Care for Every Community Act this session.”
"We know that high-quality early education is critical to child development, though too many families in Massachusetts and across the country struggle to afford quality care for their children," said Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford). "The Child Care for Every Community Act would change the game for our families. I'm grateful for Senator Warren's leadership on this issue and look forward to working with her to ensure that our children and families all have the opportunity to thrive.”
"While Massachusetts has long been a leader in public education, children and families in the Commonwealth have struggled with accessing affordable and high-quality early education and childcare for many years. Addressing this critical need for families and the educator workforce is a top priority for the state Legislature this session, and I look forward to partnering with Senator Warren, our federal delegation, and my Massachusetts House colleagues on ways we can work at every level of government to improve this vital sector and ensure our students are ideally situated to succeed in school and beyond," said Representative Alice H. Peisch, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education.
“I fully support the legislative effort to make child care and early education services universal and affordable. Working parents in underprivileged communities like the City of Lawrence would benefit significantly from the passage of this legislation, for it would provide children with the enriching environment they need for healthy growth and development. In addition, it would allow parents who need to work to stay in the labor force. I commend our Lawrence Federal Delegation for its commitment and dedication to ensuring everyone has equal opportunities, no matter the social-economic class,” said Lawrence Mayor Brian A. DePena.
“Massachusetts employers are keenly aware that accessible, high-quality childcare is fundamental to a thriving economy. Yet currently in Massachusetts, at a time when employers are struggling to find workers to fill open jobs, too many – particularly women – are sidelined due to the inability to find or afford care for their children. In response, employers are implementing innovative childcare supports in the workplace, and the Roundtable is joining with state policy makers and others to develop legislative solutions. Given the scale of the challenge facing the state, the federal government must be a partner in this work, and we are so grateful for the leadership of Senator Warren, who continues to be a national champion. The Senator’s Child Care for Every Community Act, is just the type of commitment from the federal government necessary to make meaningful change in Massachusetts,” said JD Chesloff, President and CEO, Massachusetts Business Roundtable.
“Senator Warren’s Bill addresses the importance of Universal Childcare as the backbone to the economy’s infrastructure, but it also addresses another key element--the early childhood workforce. For the field to attract and retain qualified employees, we must increase the compensation for all early childhood staff. This bill supports leveraging the expertise of Head Start programs and existing early childhood education providers by prioritizing expansion within the current network of high quality programs. The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act uses Head Start and Early Head Start high quality early child education and comprehensive service model and prioritizes the most vulnerable of children. Triumph believes this model is the essential backbone of a universal system and a safety net for children and families in historically marginalized and under-resourced communities,” said Karen M. Ennis, Executive Director, Triumph Inc. Head Start, Early Head Start and Childhood Programs.
“As a family child care provider, I see the need for reform every day in my community,” said Maritza Manrique, a family child care provider in East Boston. “We not only need universal access to high-quality, affordable child care, we need real investments in child care workers so that everyone in our communities can thrive. The Child Care for Every Community Act is a step towards the universal child care system that all our children, families, & providers deserve.”
“High-quality early education and care keeps children safe and healthy while contributing to their overall wellbeing and providing the tools that children need to be their best selves. It helps children develop the skills in all areas of development including social and emotional learning that they need now and for future success both in school and throughout their lives. In addition, quality, affordable, and accessible care provides peace of mind so that adult family members can be effective in the workforce, contributing to a strong economy,” said Richard MacPherson, President & CEO of MetroWest YMCA.
“We are grateful for Senator Warren’s leadership and continued support for young children and families. It is because of her efforts to secure stabilization funding throughout the pandemic that many childcare programs have been able to stay open and available for the families who rely on them. This legislation is an essential next step in our efforts to move past stabilization and establish a sustainable model for early education and care that addresses family affordability and positions this essential sector for growth. We are thrilled to see supports for the early childhood workforce, comprehensive services and the partnership between the federal, state and local level that prioritizes local community needs and aligns systems,” said Amy O’Leary, Executive Director, Strategies for Children.
"Thank you to Senator Warren for her continued leadership, with this legislation, in working toward more children having access to early education and care in a robust mixed-delivery system that best meets the needs of children and families. We know we can only meet this goal and advance equity, when we ensure early educators are paid the compensation they deserve and care is affordable to all parents. We appreciate Senator Warren’s visionary approach to recognizing those needs and building a better future for all," said Justin Pasquariello, Executive Director of East Boston Social Centers.
“Early care and education is an economic competitiveness issue, plain and simple,” said Tom Weber, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education, and Foundation Fellow, Eastern Bank Foundation. “At a moment of historic labor market scarcity, increased access to affordable, high-quality childcare is essential to support the success of working families and to tap the talent necessary to drive a thriving and equitable economy. A strong Federal partnership on childcare is necessary to achieve these outcomes for Massachusetts. I applaud Senator Warren’s leadership, and the Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education looks forward to working with her and our congressional leaders on this issue of vital importance to the economic security of Massachusetts families and employers.”
The Child Care for Every Community Act will ensure that every family in every community has access to high-quality, affordable child care and early learning opportunities by establishing a network of federally-supported, locally-administered child care options. These high-quality, affordable child care and early learning options will provide every child in America with a fair opportunity to reach their full potential and will improve economic, child development, and employment outcomes for children and families. The legislation:
- 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: Half of families nationwide will pay no more than $10 a day for child care, and all families would see their child care costs capped. A sliding scale will ensure that fees are affordable based on families’ income, as in the U.S. military child care program. Higher-income families would pay no more than 7% of their income, while lower-income families making less than 75% of their state median income would be fully subsidized.
- In Massachusetts, a family with an infant and a 2-year-old making $130,125 would pay no more than $10 per day, or $200 per month, down from the current average cost of $3,128 per month.
- 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.
- Is locally-administered and federally-supported: As originally envisioned in the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971, the federal government would partner with local sponsors – cities, school districts, states, counties, tribal organizations, or other nonprofit community entities – to administer the program in a way that prioritizes local community needs and coheres early childhood systems. These sponsors would act as local “hubs” by establishing networks of Child Care and Early Learning Centers and Family Child Care Homes options for families, mirroring options currently available to military families.
- 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.
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