The Child Care for Working Families Act: A Big Step for Quality Infant-Toddler Child Care
Right now, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, providing assistance to families in need, reaches only 1 in 6 eligible children from working families. But all babies need high-quality, accessible, affordable child care.
The Child Care for Working Families Act, sponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), would ensure families have the quality care that they need to work, their children receive care that helps them learn and thrive, and the early childhood workforce has the training and compensation its important mission requires. Overall, the bill would build on the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant to increase the number of children who could receive child care assistance by more than 13 times the current amount, with particular attention to infant and toddler care.
What would The Child Care for Working Families Act do and how would babies benefit?
Ensure that no family earning under 150 percent of state median income pays more than 7 percent of their income for child care. This provision would greatly assist families of infants and toddlers, whose care can exceed the cost of public colleges.
Provide enhanced resources to help states ramp up the care available in their states, including in underserved areas. A special 90% federal match for infant-toddler care would help solve the gaps in quality care for this age group.
Increase workforce training and compensation. The bill would ensure that all child care workers are paid a living wage, and have access to a professional development system offering them the knowledge and know-how to best support the development of the children in their care. This would help infant-toddler teachers, who on average are paid less than their preschool counterparts with similar credentials, secure better pay.
Provide states with substantial levels of quality funding to invest in activities, including improving infant-toddler care. States will have to create or expand quality systems to raise the overall quality of care. Quality improvement would support the needs of family, friend, and neighbor care and care during non-traditional hours. These funds would help infant-toddler care, often of poor or mediocre quality, provide young children with the developmental support they need.
Invest in more inclusive, high-quality child care for children with disabilities, and infants and toddlers with disabilities, including by increased funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Expanded services for infants and toddlers will catch problems earlier, when they are easier and less expensive to address, helping more children get ready for school.
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In December 2013, Michigan received a four-year Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant.