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Congressional lawmakers introduce legislation to broaden childcare access and affordability

On September 14, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced legislation that would broaden working families’ access to high-quality, affordable childcare and early learning programs if enacted. The Childcare for Working Families Act would amend the Childcare and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-508) to address three overarching issues in the nation’s childcare system, including childcare affordability; the availability of programs for disabled children and those in underserved areas; and economic supports for childcare workers.

To address these issues, the Childcare for Working Families Act would provide funding incentives to states to establish high-quality preschool programs for low-income children and increase children’s eligibility for those programs, create a new federal-state partnership to provide children with quality care from birth through age 13 and increase childcare workers’ compensation and professional development opportunities. The legislation would also increase funding for early childhood education programs.

The political outlook for the bill remains unclear as congressional lawmakers confront a busy legislative calendar this fall. However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have signaled interest in addressing rising childcare costs. According to the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, childcare costs have increased by more than 25 percent over the past decade. Additionally, in 33 states and the District of Columbia, the cost of infant care is more than the average cost of in-state college tuition at public schools.

NACo policy supports children’s access to affordable and high-quality childcare services and early learning programs, and will continue to track this legislation in Congress. 

For more NACo resources on federal programs serving families and children, please see the following links:

Critical home visiting program requires reauthorizations this fall

Legislation introduced in Congress aims to reduce childhood poverty

NACo President announces "Serving the Underserved" initiative

Serving the Underserved: Counties Addressing Poverty