April 23, 2021

Wyden Joins Colleagues to Reintroduce Child Care for Working Families Act

Legislation would ensure access to high-quality, affordable child care for working families and improve wages for child care workers

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said today he has joined U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and colleagues to introduce the Child Care for Working Families Act, comprehensive legislation to address the child care crisis and ensure that working families can find and afford high-quality child care.

“Working families in Oregon and across the nation have long been struggling to navigate child care deserts, but the pandemic has laid bare that too many women are being forced to make the impossible choice between a paycheck and caring for their family,” Wyden said. “Millions of women have dropped out of the workforce over the past year alone, many due to concerns about child care. It’s imperative that Congress work to bolster access to quality, affordable child care to help support the economic security and well-being of families everywhere. This bill is one piece of the puzzle to make sure working parents, especially mothers, and their children get the support they deserve.”

Across the country, too many families are struggling to find quality, affordable, accessible child care, especially as the cost of child care has increased by 25 percent in the last decade and 50 percent of families live in child care deserts. In 29 states and the District of Columbia, infant care costs even exceed the average cost of in-state college tuition at public four-year institutions. Child care workers, the majority of whom are women, are also undervalued, earning poverty wages, and often turning to public assistance to help make ends meet—and women of color disproportionately comprise about 40% of the these workers. The pandemic has only made this crisis worse—an estimated 20,000 child care centers have closed since the pandemic began, more than 1 in 5 child care workers have lost their jobs, and women have disproportionately been pushed out of the workforce because they lack child care.  

To address these challenges, the Child Care for Working Families Act will establish a child care and early learning infrastructure that ensures working families can find and afford the child care they need to succeed in the workforce and children can get the early education they need to thrive. This legislation would make child care affordable for working families, expand access to preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds, improve the quality of care for all children, and increase compensation and provide training for child care workers. Overall, the CCWFA would jumpstart our economy by creating roughly 700,000 new child care jobs, help 1.6 million parents—primarily mothers—go back to work, and lift one million families out of poverty.

Specifically, the Child Care for Working Families Act would:

  • Make child care more affordable for working families, by creating a federal-state partnership to provide financial assistance for working families with children ages 0-13. Under the bill:
    • No working family under 150 percent of state median income would pay more than seven percent of their income on child care.
    • Families earning above 75 percent of state median income would pay their fair share for care on a sliding scale.
    • Families under 75 percent of the state median income would not pay anything at all.
  • Expand access to preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds, by providing funding to states to establish and expand a mixed-delivery system of high-quality preschool programs.
  • Improve the quality and supply of child care for all children, including by:
    • Supporting child care for children who are dual-language learners, children who are experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care,
    • Creating more inclusive, high-quality child care options for children, infants and toddlers with disabilities, and increasing funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,
    • Increasing child care options for children who receive care during non-traditional hours,
    • Providing grants to cover start-up and licensing costs to help establish new providers.
  • Increase wages for child care workers, by ensuring that all child care workers are paid at least a living wage and earn parity with elementary school teachers with similar credentials and experience.
  • Better support Head Start programs, by providing the funding necessary to offer full-day, full-year programming.

In the Senate, this bill was also introduced by Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Tina Smith, D-Minn., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

The Child Care for Working Families Act has been endorsed by 9to5, All Our Kin, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Federation of Teachers, Bank Street College - Education Center, Build Up California, California Alternative Payment Program Association (CAPPA), California Association for the Education of Young Children, Care Can’t Wait, Caring Across Generations, Center for American Progress, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles, Child Care Aware of America, Child Care Law Center, Child Care Resource Center, California, Child Care Services Association/T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood National Center, Child Development Associates, Child Welfare League of America, Children's Funding Project, Community Change Action, Educare Learning Network, Family Forward Oregon, Family Values at Work, First Five Years Fund, First Focus Campaign for Children, Head Start California, Indigenous Visioning, Kidango, Low Income Investment Fund, MAHUBE-OTWA Community Action Partnership, Inc., Main Street Alliance, Make It Work Nevada, MomsRising, Mothering Justice, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Black Child Development Institute, National Child Care Association (NCCA), National Children’s Facilities Network, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA), National Employment Lawyers Association, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women’s Law Center, New America, Early & Elementary Education Policy Program, Next100, Oxfam America, Parent Voices CA, ParentsTogether Action, Red Lake Nation Childcare, Save the Children, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Start Early, The Arc of the United States, The Education Trust, Third Way, TIME'S UP NOW, UNITE-LA, United State of Women, Vote Mama Foundation, West Central Initiative, Women's Law Project, Young Invincibles, and ZERO TO THREE. 

A copy of the bill text is here.

A fact sheet is here.