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In Speech on Senate Floor, Senator Murray Continues Push for Lowering Child Care Costs Through Build Back Better

Senator Murray: “We simply can’t get our economy back on track, can’t get people back to work, can’t return from this crisis stronger and fairer, if we don’t, at long last, address our nation’s child care crisis.”

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S FULL REMARKS HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, in a speech on the Senate floor, former pre-school teacher and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, highlighted how the historic child care and caregiving policies in the Build Back Better package would lower costs for working families, help get people back to work, and keep our economic recovery on track. 

“We simply can’t get our economy back on track, can’t get people back to work, can’t return from this crisis stronger and fairer, if we don’t, at long last, address our nation’s child care crisis,” said Senator Patty Murray. “For parents across the country child care is unaffordable, unavailable—and absolutely essential.”

During her remarks, Senator Murray focused on child care, highlighting how finding and affording child care continues to be a huge challenge for working families across the country, with child care sometimes costing more than rent, a mortgage, or even college tuition—and with nearly half of families nationwide, including 60 percent of rural families, without enough child care providers in their communities.

She noted that these challenges keep parents out of the workforce, with data even before the pandemic showing that two million parents with kids under 5 had to quit a job, turn down a job, or change their job due to child care challenges. In her remarks, Senator Murray also made clear that in order to get parents back to work, and boost our economy it’s critical to finally ensure that working families can find and afford child care.

“We have employers who can’t find workers, parents who can’t go back to work without quality, affordable child care, child care providers who are struggling to stay open, and child care workers who are struggling to make ends meet. Fixing this is make-or-break for our economy. That’s why Build Back Better includes historic investments to lower families’ child care costs, help states invest in opening new child care providers, raise wages for the early childhood workforce, and add more child care openings,” continued Senator Murray.

“Under Build Back Better, working families across the country will see their child care costs capped at 7 percent of their income, starting with those who need it most. What does that mean? It means in the very first year, two thirds of working families across the country—about 13 million children—could be eligible to get child care at a lower cost. It means by the fourth year, nine-in-ten working families could be eligible to send their child to a provider they choose, and see their child care costs cut by thousands of dollars each year.”

The child care plan in Build Back Better—which was modeled after Senator Murray’s Child Care for Working Families Act—will help states invest in opening new child care providers, raise wages for the early childhood workforce, and add more child care openings. Working families across the country will see their child care costs capped at 7 percent of their income, starting with those who need it most. Senator Murray noted that for a single mother with three children in Washington state making $53,000, it would mean paying nothing for child care.

Senator Murray’s floor remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

“We can’t build an economy that works for everyone if new parents can’t take the time they need to welcome a new child, or if workers can’t get paid leave when they or a loved one is seriously ill.

“We can’t rebuild our communities when seniors and people with disabilities aren’t able to access the services and support they need to live in their homes and communities.

“And we simply can’t get our economy back on track, can’t get people back to work, can’t return from this crisis stronger and fairer, if we don’t, at long last, address our nation’s child care crisis. 

“For parents across the country child care is unaffordable, unavailable—and absolutely essential.

“Child care costs more today than many families pay for rent, a mortgage, or even college tuition.

“But even for those who can afford it, many can’t find it.

“Nearly half of families nationwide, including 60 percent of rural families, don’t have enough child care providers in their communities.

“And as any parent knows—you can’t go to work if you don’t have any options to make sure your kids are taken care of.

“That’s exactly what we saw before this pandemic—when data showed two million parents with kids under 5 had to quit a job, turn down a job, or change their job due to child care challenges.

“And we’ve seen that dynamic kicked into high gear during the pandemic. And as is too often the case—Black women, Latinas, women who are paid low incomes, and single mothers—have been most affected. 

“And while the pandemic underscored how essential child care is for families… it also made child care harder to get by forcing many providers to close their doors.

“20,000 child care providers closed during the pandemic, and the child care workers hurt by those closures were mostly women, and in particular women of color.

“And even as child care providers try to reopen their doors now— child care workers are struggling to make ends meet.

“The result of all of this is clear in headlines across the country: watch King 5 in my home state of Washington: ‘Closures in Washington’s child care industry could hinder economic recovery.’

“Read the Yakima Herald: ‘13% of child care providers in Washington state have closed because of pandemic.’

“Take a look at My Northwest: ‘Washington’s child care crisis poised to get even bleaker post-pandemic.’

“And across the country it’s the same story in paper after paper: Next Pittsburgh: ‘Staffing crisis at Pennsylvania child care centers is disrupting families and slowing economic recovery.

“’The Jamestown Sun: ‘Child care shortage at root of workforce issues in North Dakota.’

“’Business Insider: ‘Childcare deserts’ are a secret driver of the labor shortage — and half of Americans live in one.’

“I could go on all day—but the takeaway should be clear by now: addressing the child care crisis is a necessity, not just for families—but for everyone.

“We have  employers who can’t find workers, parents who can’t go back to work without quality, affordable child care, child care providers who are struggling to stay open, and child care workers who are struggling to make ends meet.

“Fixing this is make-or-break for our economy.

“That’s why Build Back Better includes historic investments to lower families’ child care costs, help states invest in opening new child care providers, raise wages for the early childhood workforce, and add more child care openings. 

“Under Build Back Better, working families across the country will see their child care costs capped at 7 percent of their income, starting with those who need it most.

“What does that mean?

“It means in the very first year, two thirds of working families across the country—about 13 million children—could be eligible to get child care at a lower cost.

“It means by the fourth year, nine-in-ten working families could be eligible to send their child to a provider they choose, and see their child care costs cut by thousands of dollars each year.  

“For a single mother with three children in Washington state making $53,000, it would mean paying nothing for child care.

“For our country, it would mean we have a stronger, fairer economy that works for working people, with higher wages, better jobs, and less stress for working parents—especially moms who’ve been doing so much throughout the pandemic, and before.

“And—importantly—all this will be fully paid for by making sure the wealthiest and those at the very top finally pay their fair share.

“Every Republican who has said they are worried about the workforce crisis, worried about the challenge of rebuilding our economy, worried about how families are struggling to get by.

“Should be clamoring to get this done.

“It’s telling about their priorities that instead they are smearing it with false, bad faith attacks pretending it’s not paid for, pretending it won’t cover certain child care providers.

“M. President, I have heard from so many parents in my state about how important child care is.

“I’ve heard from small businesses about how important this is, and I know my colleagues across the country have heard it too.

“So we are going to show families we are listening.

“We are going to show families we care.

“Democrats are going to pass Build Back Better and get this done.”

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