WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have joined 33 Democratic colleagues to introduce the Child Care for Working Families Act, a comprehensive early learning and child care bill to ensure affordable, high-quality child care for working middle class families and those living paycheck to paycheck.
“I know firsthand that finding child care is stressful enough without worrying about how to afford a five-figure price tag for it,” Merkley said. “For Oregon families, a year of tuition at the University of Oregon is cheaper than the average annual cost for child care. That’s absurd. Middle class families shouldn’t have to pay a year’s salary for child care, and this bill guarantees them access to the quality child care they need, at a price they can afford.”
“Too many families in Oregon are struggling to make ends meet, let alone afford child care,” Wyden said. “No parent should be forced to choose between making sure their kid has the care they need or paying the bills. Investing in our children shouldn’t be a question.”
The Child Care for Working Families Act would address the current early learning and care crisis by ensuring that no family under 150 percent of state median income pays more than 7 percent of their income on child care. Families would pay their fair share for care on a sliding scale, regardless of the number of children they have. Families under 75 percent of the state median income will not have to pay anything at all. The bill would also support universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year olds. Finally, the bill would significantly improve compensation and training for the child care workforce to ensure that our nation’s teachers and caregivers have the support they need, as well as the children they are caring for, to thrive.
The Child Care for Working Families Act would jumpstart the economy by creating 770,000 new child care jobs and allowing 1.6 million parents—primarily mothers—go back to work. It would also lift one million families out of poverty.
Bipartisan support for child care and early learning is already building in Congress. In March 2018, Congress agreed to the largest increase in child care funding ever, and continued the increased investments in child care while increasing funding for Head Start in the Fiscal Year 2019 bill.
A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives with 99 cosponsors.
In addition to Merkley and Wyden, the Senate bill is also cosponsored by Senators Murray (D-WA), Casey (D-PA), Hirono (D-HI), Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harris (D-CA), Hassan (D-NH), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Markey (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Murphy (D-CT), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer (D-NY), Smith (D-MN), Udall (D-NM), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warren (D-MA), and Whitehouse (D-RI).
Legislative text of the Child Care for Working Families Act can be found HERE.
Fact sheet on the Child Care for Working Families Act can be found HERE.