Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today applauded the passage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, bipartisan legislation that will greatly ease the burden of child care costs for hundreds of thousands of families. The vote passed in the House of Representatives in September 2014 and passed in the Senate today by a vote of 88 to 1.
“These Child Care and Development Block Grants are so important to our families and to our national economy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Affordable child care is a common-sense issue that must be solved to bolster our economy and help struggling families. No parent in this country should ever have to choose between keeping a job or taking care of a child, nor should it be a partisan issue to do the right thing for these families.”
The CCDBG program helps low-income families gain access to quality, affordable child care and after-school programs while parents work or attend school. This program serves more than 1.5 million children nationwide every month, including over 120,000 children in New York State.
Through the CCDBG program, child care assistance is administered through vouchers or certificates, which can be used by parents for the child care provider or program of their choice. The legislation would require states to devote more of their funding to quality initiatives, including training, professional development, and professional advancement of the child care workforce.
The bill ensures that CCDBG providers meet certain health and safety requirements, related to prevention and control of infectious diseases, first aid and CPR, child abuse prevention, administration of medication, prevention of and response to emergencies due to food allergies, prevention of sudden infant death syndrome and shaken baby syndrome, building and physical premises safety, and emergency response planning. The bill would also improve early childhood care by requiring states to focus on infant and toddler quality initiatives, as well as how best to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Lastly, it would require mandatory background checks for child care providers in the CCDBG program.
In 2012, New York was ranked the second-least-affordable state in the nation for full-time day care for an infant, according to a report by Child Care Aware. A two-parent family in New York spent an average of 16.5 percent of their annual income on care for their infant. For a single mother in New York, the cost of care was greater than 57 percent of her income.
As of the latest Census data from 2010, almost half of all New York City families with children have kids under six years old. Brooklyn has the highest number of families – approximately 147,000 – who have young children, toddlers, and infants. Queens comes in second with an estimated 117,000 families with youngsters. More than half of all New York City families have children under 18 years old.
To address the rising cost of child care, Senator Gillibrand is pushing for flexible options for different types of families with varying needs, to help reduce the cost of quality child care.
Gillibrand’s child care proposals are part of her American Opportunity Agenda, which lays out five long-overdue and common-sense solutions to empower working families, reward hard work, and help businesses compete:
1. Paid Family and Medical Leave
Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act would make paid leave available to every worker by expanding Paid Family Medical Leave and creating a self-funded, paid family medical leave insurance program.
2. Increase the Minimum Wage
The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 over the next three years, with future increases indexed to the rate of inflation. It would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in more than 20 years.
3. Provide Universal Pre-K
The Strong Start for America’s Children Act would establish a federal-state partnership to provide access to high-quality Pre-K programs for all low-income and moderate-income children. It would also increase the quality of infant and toddler care in center-based settings while improving Child Care Development Block Grants.
4. Make Quality Affordable Child Care Accessible
Gillibrand’s plan would provide tax cuts to help pay for child care, incentivize businesses to offer child care or allow more parents to work from home, and expand access to programs that help families afford child care.
5. Equal Pay for Equal Work
The Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes employers can use to shortchange workers, hold big corporations accountable for pay inequity, make it easier for workers to pursue back pay, and empower working women to be appropriately and accurately compensated for their work and value.