Congressman Crowley Announces Legislation to Help Make Quality Child Care More Affordable for New York Families

March 20, 2014
Press Release

Crowley’s Children First Act will increase access to reliable, affordable child care for hard-working families

(Corona, N.Y.)  – Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, announced legislation to increase access to quality and affordable child care for low-income families. With annual child care expenses often running more than a year of college, Crowley’s Children First Act of 2014 will help more families manage the high cost of care, without having to sacrifice quality or safety. During the announcement, Crowley highlighted the importance of affordable child care in New York City. While the need is felt throughout the City, a recent analysis of NYC neighborhoods ranked Corona, where the announcement took place, second in terms of the unmet demand for child care.

“For many parents, the skyrocketing costs of child care place a significant burden on family budgets that are already stretched thin,” said Rep. Crowley. “Working parents shouldn’t be forced into a corner when it comes to ensuring their children are cared for during the day. That’s why I am pleased to introduce a measure that will help more families access affordable, quality and reliable child care.”

With the growth of the low-wage workforce, it is especially important to help families afford stable child care, which enables parents to work while ensuring their children are in a safe, reliable child care setting that promotes growth and learning. However, obtaining this care becomes increasingly difficult as child care consumes a large portion of family budgets nationwide. The average annual cost of child care ranges from $3,704 to $16,430 for full-time care depending on where the family lives, the type of care, and the age of the child. Often, child care costs are higher than other household expenses and typically exceed the average amount families spend on food, mortgages, transportation, and utilities. In 2012, in 31 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual cost for child care for an infant in a child care center was higher than a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college.

Despite the importance of high-quality child care to school readiness and later success, 260,000 fewer children received child care assistance in 2012 than 2006. The Children First Act will expand funding for child care assistance for low-income families through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), one of the main federal funding sources that supports early care and education. Approximately 2.6 million children receive federal subsidies or vouchers to help manage the high costs of child care.

Crowley’s legislation will increase funding for these subsidies by $18.8 billion over ten years. This increased funding, combined with other federal sources, would allow approximately 1.4 million more children to have access to safe and affordable child care in the first year alone.

“We are thrilled about this legislation and honored that Congressman Crowley chose to announce it here at our site,” said Traci Donnelly, The Child Center's Executive Director. “By investing in quality early childhood education and child care, we make it possible for parents to go to work knowing that their children are safe and cared for so they can build a better future. Parents are our true partners and while they focus on gainful employment, we work to ensure that their young children are developing on track and that they receive a solid foundation that will help foster this success in school. The early years offer us a special window of opportunity, to help children have the best life outcomes. Thank you, Congressman Crowley for joining this mission and for fighting to keep these young children on the agenda in Washington.”

“Congressman Crowley’s vigilance on increasing child care funding signals to the country that we must commit the necessary resources to build upon a high quality early care educational system,” said Day Care Council of New York Executive Director Andrea Anthony. “Parents will always have the choice whether to use child care services, but for those who need it because of employment or school, it will provide tremendous support.”

The Children First Act will greatly benefit New York, where the average price of full-time care in center based settings total $14,939 for an infant and $12,355 for a preschooler. More than 40,000 New York City families are currently estimated to be on a waitlist for child care subsidies.

“Making child care more affordable for families is just one piece of the puzzle – we must also focus our energies on other economic challenges facing women and families today,” continued Crowley. “That’s why Democrats in Congress have launched the Women’s Economic Agenda – to focus on policies like raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, and increased investment in job training that address the real economic needs of women and families.”

Crowley introduced the Children First Act in the 111th Congress, and again in the 112th Congress. The legislation is supported by leading national advocacy groups, including: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Children’s Defense Fund, CLASP, Early Care and Education Consortium, Local Initiatives Support Coalition, National Children’s Facilities Network, First Five Years Fund, Easter Seals, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Women’s Law Center, RESULTS, Save the Children, Service Employees International Union, and ZERO TO THREE.

Congressman Crowley is the eight-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.