ZERO TO THREE Applauds Reintroduction of the Child Care for Working Families Act
Monumental legislation will transform child care system for infants, toddlers, and families
Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) reintroduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would provide the resources our country’s child care infrastructure needs to ensure families have the quality care that they need to work, that children receive care that helps them learn and thrive, and that the early childhood workforce has the training and compensation its important mission requires. ZERO TO THREE, the country’s leading early childhood development nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, hailed the reintroduction of the bill as a crucial investment in our nation’s child care system.
ZERO TO THREE Chief Policy Officer Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor stated:
“In today’s America, it shouldn’t be this hard for parents to obtain high-quality, affordable care for their babies and toddlers. The Child Care for Working Families Act is a landmark bill that addresses both the high costs and limited supply of quality care that plagues parents with young children in this country, while also investing critical resources in supporting the early educators who do the essential work of caring for our children. And considering how many early educators are women of color, the bill will make tremendous contributions to addressing racial equity throughout the country. Simply put, this will make a remarkable difference in the lives of thousands of young families and early educators across the nation.
“In laying out a comprehensive plan to address our country’s child care crisis, this legislation provides states with particularly robust funding to improve infant-toddler services, as well as the tools they need to build a better compensated and trained workforce - an essential ingredient for the high-quality care that infants and toddlers need. We are also pleased that the bill includes grants specifically designed to increase the supply of child care, funding to support high quality care options for infants and toddlers with disabilities, and increased support for early childhood mental health consultation.
“We are grateful to Senator Murray and Representative Scott for their leadership on the Child Care for Working Families Act, and we urge their Congressional colleagues to support and swiftly pass this critical legislation.”
Research has shown that high-quality early childhood care supports critical early development, including improving language, cognitive, and social-emotional skills, and supports parents’ ability to go to work or attend school. But quality care is difficult to access, especially for those who need it most. States with high concentrations of infants and toddlers in poverty are less likely to set quality standards that ensure the positive interactions babies need for healthy development. And national data show that this lack of access is not equally dispersed, with deep disparities across race, ethnicity, and income across many states and communities in the United States.
ZERO TO THREE’s recently released State of Babies Yearbook: 2021 reveals the importance of investing in early childhood education on a national and state-by-state level. Findings show:
Just 4.2 percent of infants and toddlers at or below 150 percent of their state median income (the eligibility limit set by the Child Care for Working Families Act) currently receive a child care subsidy.
Only 11 percent of those income-eligible infants and toddlers have access to Early Head Start, where families can get comprehensive child development and family support services.
Few states set strong infant-toddler quality standards that create environments for rich adult-child interactions, especially for toddlers, and only six states require infant-toddler teachers to have a child development or any credential beyond high school.
On May 18th, families from every state in the nation and the District of Columbia will meet with their members of Congress as part of Strolling Thunder, an annual event bringing thousands of advocates together to call on Congress to Think Babies and Act and boldly invest in our babies and our future. This year’s event will be held virtually, with an online rally held on May 17th. Parent advocates will share their stories and call on their members of Congress to support a number of policies that benefit babies and families, including the Child Care for Working Families Act. To learn more, visit thinkbabies.org/strollingthunder.
To learn more about the child care system and needed policies to help babies and families, read ZERO TO THREE’s latest policy brief, “The State of Child Care for Babies: The Need to Do Better for Our Youngest Children.”
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