Kerry, Lincoln, Crowley Introduce Legislation to Expand Access to Affordable Child Care

Jul 30, 2010

Washington, D.C. —Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) have introduced the Children First Act to increase access to stable and affordable child care for low-income families. Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“Good child care shouldn’t be a luxury, and it’s certainly not a negligible expense,” said Sen. Kerry. “A year of day care can cost more than a year of college. As our economy recovers, families need access to safe and affordable child care so parents can find steady jobs and know their kids are safe during the day. I look forward to working with my colleagues, Senator Lincoln and Congressman Crowley to ensure that parents don’t have to face a choice between finding work and protecting their families.”
“Parents should not be forced to leave a job because they can’t find an affordable, safe and reliable source of care for their children,” Sen. Lincoln said. “I have heard from families all across Arkansas who are working hard to provide stable and healthy lives for their children, but whose current income simply cannot cover the costs of safe and reliable child care. These hardworking moms and dads rely on child care assistance to support their families, and that is why I am working hard to provide the funding these parents need. The Children First Act will help Arkansas families make ends meet, and ensure that Arkansas’s children are cared for in a safe and stable environment. I am proud to introduce this legislation on behalf of Arkansas’s hardworking families.”
“As child care costs continue to skyrocket, hard-working parents are forced to make a major decision about the well-being of their children based on what they can and cannot afford,” said Rep. Crowley. “Child care is a necessity for many families and parents shouldn’t be forced in a corner when it comes to the care of their children. I am pleased to join Senator Kerry and Senator Lincoln in the effort to help more families access quality and affordable child care.”
The Children First Act will:

  • Increase funding for mandatory child care by $800 million annually for fiscal year 2011 through 2015   
  • Annually index mandatory child care funding to inflation beginning in fiscal year 2012
  • Allow approximately 117,500 more children to have access to safe and affordable child care.

The Children First Act will greatly benefit Massachusetts, which has approximately 18,000 children on a waitlist for child care subsidies.  About half of the parents with at least one preschool age child in the household have been on the waitlist for 13 months or more.

Massachusetts families pay more on average than families in any other state for most types of child care; the average price of full time care in center based settings is $15,895 for an infant and $11,678 for a preschooler.  This means a single parent at the state median income in Massachusetts ($26,680) would have to spend nearly 44 percent of their income to pay for an average full day pre-kindergarten program.
Child care consumes a large portion of family budgets nationwide, and can range from $4,560 to $15,895 annually for full-time care depending on where the family lives, the type of care, and the age of the child.  Child care prices are higher than other household expenses and typically exceed the average amount families spend on food.  In 39 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual price for child care for an infant in a child care center was higher than a year’s tuition at a four-year public college.
The following organizations have endorsed the Children First Act:
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
American Humane Association
Children’s Defense Fund
Child Welfare League of America
Council for Professional Recognition
Early Care and Education Consortium
Federally Employed Women (FEW)
First Five Years Fund
First Focus Campaign for Children
Foster Family-Based Treatment Association
Half in Ten Campaign
Insight Center for Community Economic Development
Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Low Income Investment Fund
National Association for Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies
National Association for Family Child Care
National Association for the Education of Young Children
National Black Child Development Institute
National Children's Facilities Network
National Council of Jewish Women
National Women’s Law Center
Nonprofit Finance Fund
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Trust for America’s Health
Voices for America’s Children
YMCA of the USA