Child Care for Working Families Act Is Essential to Address Long-Standing Care Crisis

This statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). 

Washington, D.C., April 27, 2023—Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced a reimagined and strengthened Child Care for Working Families Act to address the care crisis plaguing the nation. For far too long, children, families, and providers have had to bear the burden of the broken child care sector. And the systemic racism and sexism that’s been part of the history of child care persist to this day in harming groups that have been historically marginalized. It’s beyond time to flip that script and meet the needs of all families, including those who have been excluded and harmed by policies and systems that leave millions of hardworking families unsupported. This bill begins to right those wrongs.  

Currently, only 1 in 6 eligible children receive child care assistance. This bill would increase access in a big way—making more children eligible and guaranteeing care for children under 6 with a parent(s) who participates in a qualifying activity. It would also boost provider wages and supports, as well as provide resources for more accessible career pathways to help expand the child care provider workforce. The two very critical pieces of the puzzle—access for families and support for providers—are often pitted against one another at the state level due to limited federal support.  

This bill would help eliminate the tensions states constantly experience, where nearly every positive policy improvement comes at the expense of something else valuable. By providing Building an Affordable System for Early Education (BASE) grants to all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia, this bill would set providers and states up for success by allocating funds to every state to support child care providers, increase worker pay, and improve access for families. The bill also encompasses universal preschool, including Head Start agencies—initiatives that have proven their value in red and blue states alike. Finally, the bill provides funding to improve the duration of the Head Start program and better align it with need throughout the country. 

The well-designed federal child care investments embodied in the Child Care for Working Families Act are a no-brainer. The lack of affordable, high-quality child care has limited our country’s economic potential and wellbeing for generations. The bill would improve lifelong outcomes for children and increase education, employment, and earnings among their caregivers—including both parents and child care professionals. It’s time for Congress to turn this proposal into a reality.