Making Child Care Affordable and Available

According to a report released by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the cost of child care in New York is rising by $730 per year.  County-by-county estimates show that costs are rising across age levels in every corner of the state. In response to the growing costs of child care, Senator Gillibrand has a plan to make child care more affordable and accessible for working parents.

"In this difficult economy, parents cannot afford the rising cost of child care. Families' incomes are just not keeping pace," Senator Gillibrand said. "I speak with parents all over New York State, who tell me that something must be done.  In addition to making child care more affordable for parents who work and go to school, my plan will provide special assistance to businesses that help their employees with the tremendous costs."

According to Senator Gillibrand's report, New York's working parents are paying higher prices than ever for child care. The cost of care is rising an average of approximately $730 per year. Now, families across New York are paying approximately $10,400 per year for an infant, $9,100 per year for a toddler and $8,300 per year for a school aged child.

VIEW Senator Gillibrand's report on rising child care costs across New York.

In response to the squeeze on New York working parents struggling to afford child care, Senator Gillibrand unveiled her plan:

Make Child Care More Affordable for Families

The Dependent and Child Care Tax Credit was originally capped at $2,400 in 1981.  In the nearly thirty years since then, it has increased by only $600.  Senator Gillibrand will make child care more affordable for families by working with Senator Boxer to double the amount, providing families with a maximum deduction of $6,000.  This increase would reflect inflation and rapidly rising child care costs.

This legislation, titled the Right Start Child Care and Education Act, would also make the child care credit fully refundable, allowing low-income families with no tax liability to realize the full benefit of this credit.

Create More On-Site Child Care at the Workplace

Senator Gillibrand plans to help more New York businesses provide on-site child care services for their employees.  She is working with Senator Boxer on legislation to provide larger tax breaks to employers who provide child care at the workplace.  This legislation would provide employers with a tax deduction worth 35 percent of the cost of creating these facilities. Currently, employers can only deduct 25 percent of their costs.

Assist Employers Who Help Workers Find Affordable Child Care

 Senator Gillibrand is also working to provide additional tax breaks for businesses that help their workers find affordable child care. Senator Gillibrand supports a proposal to allow employers to deduct 20 percent of the costs for child care resources and referral services. Currently employers can deduct only 10 percent of those costs. Senator Gillibrand also supports increasing the maximum deduction from $150,000 to $225,000.

Encourage More Trained Professionals to Enter the Child Care Workforce

Since the Dependent and Child Care Tax Credit was passed in the 1980s, the percentage of child care professionals with a college degree has declined from 43 percent to less than 30 percent.  To encourage better trained professionals to enter the field, the bill would create a new tax credit of $2,000 a year for up to three years for any college graduate who specializes in child care and works at least 1,200 hours a year in a child care facility.

Incentivize Businesses to Provide Home Telecommunications

American workers trying to juggle the demands of jobs and family crave flexibility in their work.  Nearly two-thirds of American workers who do not have the option to telecommute say they wish they did. Telecommuting would afford working parents more time at home with children, the ability to oversee in-home child care, the ability to take nursing breaks, and the flexibility to spend time with their children during work breaks.  In addition, encouraging more employers to institute telecommuting will save families money - the average commuter spends nearly $1,200 a year to commute to and from work.

To incentivize employers to allow more employees to work from home, Senator Gillibrand will be introducing the Family Work Flexibility Act.  This legislation will offer businesses a $500 tax credit to help defray the cost of the equipment, such as computers and telephone lines that would enable employees to work from home.   This saves businesses money, saves families money, and allows parents more time with their kids.

Provide Part-Time Students with Access to the Child Care Tax Credit

Under current law, the dependent care tax credit for child care expenses is unavailable for parents who only go to school part-time.  As a result, parents who want to continue their studies but are only able to do so part-time are unable to take advantage of this benefit.  This prevents many parents who would like to further their education from returning to school part-time, which often is all they can afford.

In one study, 82 percent of parents who went directly from high school to full-time work cited having to care for children as the single most important reason that they did not go to college.  Among parents who attend college after working, 74 percent cite child care and flexible schedules as factors that would encourage them to return to school.

To assist parents who want to continue their studies but cannot do so full-time, Senator Gillibrand will introduce legislation to allow part-time students access to the same tax benefits as full time students.  This will mean that more parents than ever before will be able to return to school, improve their lives and the lives of their families, and contribute to the growth of our economy.