News Releases

CHILD CARE: Murray Urges Passage of Critical Child Care Legislation

Mar 13 2014

Legislation promotes policies that contribute to the healthy development of more than 1.5M children, support opportunities for parents

Tells stories of WA families who would benefit from reauthorization

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, Thursday, March 13th, 2014, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor urging passage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant.  This legislation places an emphasis on promoting policies that will support opportunities for parents to work, enroll in school, or get job training, while also contributing to the healthy development of children. More than 1.5 million children benefit from the federal child care subsidy program, including 44,800 children in Washington state. Senator Murray shared stories she has heard from constituents who would benefit directly from this legislation.

“…For moms wanting to re-enter the labor force, for the parents studying and working hard to support their families, for children who deserve the quality care and attention they need early in life-- let’s expand opportunities to more families by ensuring they can access child care,” Senator Murray said.  

Stories from Washington state constituents in Senator Murray’s speech:

“In my home state of Washington, a woman named Janelle is a single mom living in southeast Seattle.  Janelle was looking for opportunities to better support her family.  But before she could go back to school or participate in a job training program to advance her career, she first needed to find affordable child care for two of her children.  Thankfully, with assistance from Child Care and Development Block Grants, she was able to get subsidies to help cover the cost.  Janelle now works part-time and is attending school to become a surgical tech.”

“That’s helped a single mom named Star who lives in Skagit county in Washington state. Star wants to advance her skills to help support her family. With this assistance, she’s able to go to community college an hour away from her home, knowing her kids have a reliable child-care program to attend. There is nothing more important to a parent than the safety and well-being of their children. Reauthorizing this bill will help ensure that parents like Star can feel comfortable when they have to leave their children to attend work or school.”

 “Back in Washington state, a couple named Edward and Constance are struggling to make ends meet on a very low income. But they are working and studying to make sure that times won’t always be so tough.  Because of child care assistance with this grant money, Edward works full time. And when Constance isn’t working at her part-time job, she’s training to become a dental assistant.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s speech below:

“Thank you, Mr. President.

“In my home state of Washington, a woman named Janelle is a single mom living in southeast Seattle.

“Janelle was looking for opportunities to better support her family.

“But before she could go back to school or participate in a job training program to advance her career, she first needed to find affordable child care for two of her children.

“Thankfully, with assistance from Child Care and Development Block Grants, she was able to get subsidies to help cover the cost.

“Janelle now works part-time and is attending school to become a surgical tech.

“That federal grant program expands opportunities to parents like Janelle, and many more families across the country, by helping with the cost of child care.

“And that’s why today, I’m calling on all of my colleagues to support the Child Care and Development Block Grant reauthorization.

“Mr. President, the cost of child care has soared in recent decades.

“The Census Bureau found that child care costs have nearly doubled since the mid-1980s. 

“And that high cost hits low-income families especially hard.

“For working families living below the poverty line, the cost of child care can eat up more than 30 percent of their monthly income.

“For single parents, with only one income, it’s an even bigger burden.

“When low-income parents don’t have access to reliable and affordable child care, they can’t work.

“They can’t go back to school. They can’t advance their skills with job training. They are stuck.

“This is particularly problematic for women.

“Women are more likely than men to cut back their hours at work, or quit their jobs altogether, so they can take care of their children.

“In the long run, that puts women on an uneven playing field with their male counterparts, both in terms of earnings, and opportunities to advance in the workplace. 

“We need to break down these barriers.

“We need to ensure working doesn’t become cost prohibitive for parents.

“We need to strengthen access for low-income families to get affordable and quality child care.

“The bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Act is part of that solution.

“Those grants expand opportunities for parents with low incomes.

“It allows them to work, attend school or get job training, all with the peace of mind that their kids are taken care of, in a safe child-care setting.

“In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed this grant program, as we know it, into law.

“And today, it helps 1.6 million kids attend child care.

“To participate, parents must have a job, or they must be enrolled in school or a job training program.

“That’s helped a single mom named Star who lives in Skagit county in Washington state.

“Star wants to advance her skills to help support her family.

“With this assistance, she’s able to go to community college an hour away from her home, knowing her kids have a reliable child-care program to attend. 

“There is nothing more important to a parent than the safety and well-being of their children.

“Reauthorizing this bill will help ensure that parents like Star can feel comfortable when they have to leave their children to attend work or school.

“Mr. President, in this reauthorization bill, we also looked for ways to improve these grants.  

“For example, we know that stability is critical for a young child’s development.

“But before, kids could lose their spot in child care if their parents didn’t meet the eligibility requirements, even temporarily.

“That disruption in care is exactly what we should work to avoid.

“I’ve seen this need through my work on behalf of foster kids, military students, and homeless children. Those groups tend to be highly mobile populations.

“Now, with this legislation, we’ve ensured that kids have a mandatory 12 months of access to child care, so they can have greater stability during those critical early years.

“We’ve also reduced barriers for homeless families to access child care.

“This reauthorization will train more child-care providers in identifying and serving homeless children and their families, so they can get the support they need. 

“Mr. President, for many families, it can be difficult just to find quality child-care programs.

“So I also worked to authorize a toll-free hotline and a website, so parents can check out options for quality programs in their community.

“Mr. President, I’m a strong supporter of this bill. But it’s not perfect.

“I had hoped we could not only enhance this program, but also expand authorized funding for this program, so more kids could get access to quality child care.

“But, I will keep working with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to increase these investments, so more families from low-income backgrounds have access to child care.

“Back in Washington state, a couple named Edward and Constance are struggling to make ends meet on a very low income.

“But they are working and studying to make sure that times won’t always be so tough.

“Because of child care assistance with this grant money, Edward works full time. And when Constance isn’t working at her part-time job, she’s training to become a dental assistant.

“Supporting these parents, and helping their kids attend a safe, quality child care program, are what these grants are all about.

“I urge my colleagues to support this legislation--for moms wanting to re-enter the labor force, for the parents studying and working hard to support their families, for children who deserve the quality care and attention they need early in life-- let’s expand opportunities to more families by ensuring they can access child care.

“Thank you, Mr. President.

“I yield the floor.”