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Murray, Scott Reintroduce Child Care for Working Families Act

Child Care for Working Families Act would ensure access to high-quality, affordable child care for working families and improve wages for child care workers


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, comprehensive legislation to address the child care crisis and ensure that working families can find and afford high-quality child care. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) joined Senator Murray in introducing the Senate bill, along with 32 additional cosponsors. Representative Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan joined Congressman Scott in introducing the House bill, along with 64 additional cosponsors.

Across the country, too many families are struggling to find quality, affordable, accessible child care, especially as the cost of child care has increased by 25 percent in the last decade and 50 percent of families live in child care deserts. In 29 states and the District of Columbia, infant care costs even exceed the average cost of in-state college tuition at public four-year institutions. Child care workers, the majority of whom are women, are also undervalued, earning poverty wages, and often turning to public assistance to help make ends meet—and Black women and women of color disproportionately comprise about 40% of the these workers. The pandemic has only made this crisis worse—an estimated 20,000 child care centers have closed since the pandemic began, more than 1 in 5 child care workers have lost their jobs, and women have disproportionately been pushed out of the workforce because they lack child care. 

To address these challenges, the Child Care for Working Families Act will establish a child care and early learning infrastructure that ensures working families can find and afford the child care they need to succeed in the workforce and children can get the early education they need to thrive. This legislation would make child care affordable for working families, expand access to preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds, improve the quality of care for all children, and increase compensation and provide training for child care workers. Overall, the CCWFA would jumpstart our economy by creating roughly 700,000 new child care jobs, help 1.6 million parents—primarily mothers—go back to work, and lift one million families out of poverty.


“Too often, I hear from working moms and parents across Washington state who have had to quit their jobs because they can’t find or afford child care—and for women of color and women from families with low-incomes, this challenge can be even more difficult. That not only makes it incredibly hard for women to provide for their families, or grow their careers—but it hurts our economy too,” said Senator Murray. “As we work to build back a stronger, fairer economy, we must recognize that investment in child care is essential—and that’s exactly what Child Care for Working Families does. Our legislation will ensure every working family can get high-quality, affordable child care, and that our child care educators are paid what they deserve. This is not only the right thing to do for working families, but it’s a smart investment in our children, our future, and our economy.”


“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder that access to affordable child care is essential for children, families, and our economy.  Without access to child care, parents cannot go to work, businesses lose workers and customers, and children miss out on invaluable early learning opportunities,” said Chairman Scott.  “Unfortunately, many families and communities across the country were experiencing a child care crisis long before the pandemic.  The Child Care for Working Families Act will finally provide families with relief from the high cost of child care, expand the supply of affordable options, and increase pay for child care workers.  This investment will immediately improve the lives of millions of children and families, while creating new jobs and encouraging faster growth in our communities.”


“Far too often and particularly during the health and economic crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic, access to affordable, high-quality, and reliable child care has been a struggle for working families, moms, and communities of color across our country,” said Leader Schumer. “This legislation will transform American child care and early education by supporting universal preschool, improving compensation and training for our caregivers, and ensuring families who earn less than 150% of their state’s median income spend no more than 7% of their income on child care. Democrats are committed to big, bold solutions, and with this bill we can address the current child care crisis and barriers facing women today.”


“Securing affordable, quality child care and early education will not only lift up women and families, but will power the American economy as we work to Build Back Better and address the rising economic inequities facing women today,” said Speaker Pelosi. “The Child Care for Working Families Act is a landmark step toward lowering costs for working families, providing better pay for child care professionals and boosting America’s competitiveness in the world.  Led by Chair Bobby Scott, House Democrats will continue our progress to ensure that no family has to choose between work and child care, and that parents can earn and children can learn.”


“During the last year, the pandemic has only further revealed the need to improve access to high-quality, affordable child care programs in the United States. Congress has acted to make sure these programs are widely available to working and middle class families in Hawaii and elsewhere as we continue to recover, and the Child Care for Working Families Act will further the important goal of making child care and early learning programs accessible for America’s families,” said Senator Hirono. “I stand with Chair Murray and Senator Casey in reintroducing this landmark legislation.”


“In the midst of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, millions of parents are struggling to put food on the table and cover the cost of child care – working families should not have to worry about prohibitive costs of early learning and care,” said Senator Casey. “The Child Care for Working Families Act would ensure that all families have access to the affordable high-quality early care and learning opportunities that help children grow and succeed and enable parents to work. It would support access to universal pre-k, full day head-start and ensure that low and middle income working families do not have to pay more than seven percent of their income on child care. These investments in our early care and education system are critical to our national economic infrastructure and recovery. We have an obligation to support working families and the wellbeing of every child.”


“Working families must have access to child care and pre-school they can afford and trust. The pandemic has made more clear than ever these services are critical infrastructure our national economy relies on,” said Congressman Sablan. “As Chair of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, making sure young children from every economic strata have the opportunity to learn and develop in a safe and enriching environment, while parents are at work, is one of my primary concerns. That is why I support the Child Care for Working Families Act and will work hard to get it to the President for signature.” 


Specifically, Child Care for Working Families Act would:

  • Make child care more affordable for working families, by creating a federal-state partnership to provide financial assistance for working families with children ages 0-13. Under the bill:
    • No working family under 150 percent of state median income would pay more than seven percent of their income on child care.
    • Families earning above 75 percent of state median income would pay their fair share for care on a sliding scale.
    • Families under 75 percent of the state median income would not pay anything at all.
  • Expand access to preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds, by providing funding to states to establish and expand a mixed-delivery system of high-quality preschool programs.
  • Improve the quality and supply of child care for all children, including by:
    • Supporting child care for children who are dual-language learners, children who are experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care,
    • Creating more inclusive, high-quality child care options for children, infants and toddlers with disabilities, and increasing funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,
    • Increasing child care options for children who receive care during non-traditional hours,
    • Providing grants to cover start-up and licensing costs to help establish new providers.
  • Increase wages for child care workers, by ensuring that all child care workers are paid at least a living wage and earn parity with elementary school teachers with similar credentials and experience.
  • Better support Head Start programs, by providing the funding necessary to offer full-day, full-year programming.


Bill text is available HERE.


Fact sheet is available HERE.


In addition to Senators Murray, Hirono, Casey, the bill was cosponsored in the Senate by: Senators Schumer (D-NY), Baldwin (D-WI), Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Hassan (D-NH), Heinrich (D-NM), Kaine (D-VA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Luján (D-NM), Markey (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Padilla (D-CA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Schatz (D-HI), Smith (D-MN), Van Hollen (D-MD), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wyden (D-OR).


In addition to Representatives Scotts and Sablan, the bill was cosponsored in the House by: Representatives Hayes, Bonamici, Wilson, Takano, Castro, McBath, Norcross, Morelle, Wild, Courtney, Bowman, DeSaulnier, Leger Fernandez, DeLauro, Garcia, Clark, Meeks, Smith (WA), Frankel, Kaptur, Meng, Cicilline, Raskin, Cohen, Schakowsky, Speier, Carbajal, Bass, Kilmer, Larson, Brownley, Titus, Castor, Jacobs, Larsen, Scanlon, Evans, Holmes Norton, Maloney, Carson, Lee (CA), Davis (IL), Houlahan, Tonko, Tlaib, Jackson Lee, Rochester, Lawrence, DeGette, Velázquez, Lieu, Roybal-Allard, Soto, Langevin, Moore, Strickland, Vargas, Watson Coleman, Pingree, Auchincloss, Pascrell, Jr., DeFazio, Williams, Mfume, and Napolitano.


The Child Care for Working Families Act has been endorsed by: 9to5, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, All Our Kin, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers, Bank Street College- Education Center, Bay Area Council, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Build Up California, California Alternative Payment Program Association (CAPPA), California Association for the Education of Young Children, Care Can’t Wait, Caring Across Generations, Center for American Progress, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles, Child Care Aware® of America, Child Care Law Center, Child Care Resource Center, California, Child Care Services Association/T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center, Child Development Associates, Child Welfare League of America, Children at Risk, Children's Defense Fund, Children's Funding Project, Children's Home & Aid, Clayton Early Learning, Closing the women's wealth gap, Colorado Children's Campaign, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Common Good Iowa, Community Change Action, Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children (DEC), Economic Opportunity Institute, Educare Learning Network, Erikson Institute, EverThrive IL, EveryChild California, Family Forward Oregon, Family Values at Work, Feminist Majority Foundation, First 5 California, First 5 LA, First Five Years Fund, First Focus Campaign for Children, Giant Steps, Hamden Early Learning Program, Hawai?i Children’s Action Network Speaks!, Head Start California, IDEA Infant and Toddler Coordinators Association (ITCA), Illinois Association of Infant Mental Health, Illinois Collaboration on Youth, Illinois Developmental Therapy Association, Indigenous Visioning, Kentucky Youth Advocates, Kidango, Kids Win Missouri, Low Income Investment Fund, MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership, Inc., Main Street Alliance, Make It Work Nevada, Mansfield Discovery Depot, Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative, MomsRising/MamásConPoder, Montessori Public Policy Initiative, Mothering Justice, NA, National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Association of School Psychologists, National Black Child Development Institute, National Child Care Association (NCCA), National Children’s Facilities Network, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA), National Employment Law Project, National Employment Lawyers Association, National Partnership for Women & Families, National PTA, National Women’s Law Center, Neighborhood Villages, New America, Early & Elementary Education Policy Program, Next100, Norwalk Early Childhood Council, One Hope United, Oxfam America, Parent Voices CA, ParentsTogether Action, Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, Red Lake Nation Childcare, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, SAL Family and Community Services, Save the Children, SchoolHouse Connection, Service Employees International Union, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Skip-a-Long Child Development Services, St. Paul's Child Development Center, Start Early, The Arc of the United States, The Education Trust, Third Way, TIME'S UP NOW, UNITE-LA, United State of Women, Voices for Illinois Children, Vote Mama Foundation, West Central Initiative, Western Illinois University, Westville Community Nursery School, White Earth Nation, Women's Law Project, Women's March, Young Invincibles, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, Zero to Five Montana, and ZERO TO THREE.