News Releases

Murray Works to Improve Childcare for Washington State Kids

Sep 04 2002

Senate bill increases access, improves quality of childcare for American families

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In a move to increase access and quality of childcare in America, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee today passed the ACCESS Act.

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the committee and a long-time advocate for quality childcare, worked tirelessly on the legislation, which provides additional support for infants and toddlers, and children with special needs.

"Like kindergarten through twelfth grade education, childcare must be viewed as an investment in the future of our country," Senator Murray said. "The ACCESS Act is a critical piece of the federal response to the problem of quality childcare. This is an important step toward improving childcare so that every family, not just the lucky few, has access to affordable quality childcare."

The ACCESS Act strengthens the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program by requiring investment in quality improvements. These improvements include wage and reimbursement rate increases, and investment in professional development programs for childcare providers.

The Act also provides targeted funding to states to support programs addressing the specific childcare needs of infants, toddlers and children with disabilities.

The Act would increase funding for the CCDBG program by $1 billion, to nearly $5 billion in 2003.

"Every parent wants his or her child to succeed. Unfortunately, for many of Washington state's working parents – particularly those with infants or who work night shifts – childcare is either too expensive or not accessible. We must make critical investments on the state and federal level to ensure that no child is left behind."

Budget shortfalls in Washington state have resulted in cuts in eligibility for many low-income families seeking quality childcare for their children, which could affect as many as 13,000 families. The state has also been forced to increase family co-payments and eliminate funding for quality programs.

The bill will now go before the full Senate Appropriations Committee for approval.