Clark bill ensures affordable child care through tax credits

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced the 21st Century Child Care Investment Act, legislation to ensure all families have the ability to access affordable, high quality child care through monthly tax credit programs. The Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable child care as costing no greater than 10 percent of a family’s income. However, reports indicate that two-parent families with two children can expect to spend a quarter or more of their incomes on child care, making child care unaffordable for millions of families.

“Today’s skyrocketing costs of child care are forcing millions of parents to forgo opportunities like work or school,” said Clark. "Affordable, high quality child care is not only essential for our youngest learners, it is critical for hard working families' success. I introduced the 21st Century Child Care Investment Act to ensure every family and every child has a fair shot at their dream.”

"Child care is an economic necessity for working families, but its high cost--more than $10,000 annually in some states--places it far out of reach for many. We need a plan for child care that supports working families and addresses their financial realities, said Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President, Policy at Center for American Progress. “Rep. Katherine Clark’s bill would institute a high-quality child care tax credit that recognizes access to child care as one of the most important economic issues facing families today and targets support to the families that need it most.

"By contrast, Donald Trump put forth a plan that is little more than a dressed-up tax cut for the wealthy. It would provide little support to working families and does nothing to address the high upfront cost of child care. If Congress is serious about passing a child care plan, it should pass right over Trump's proposal."

“Too many low-income and working class families struggle to gain access to affordable, high-quality child care and most do not have incomes high enough to benefit from tax relief,” said Dr. Lynette Fraga, Executive Director of Child Care Aware of America. “That’s why Child Care Aware® of America supports Congresswoman Clark’s 21st Century Child Care Investment Act that prioritizes refundable tax credits to working families, and helping their children receive high quality care.”

“Families are working longer and harder to make ends meet, and one of the biggest expenses they face -- if not the biggest -- is child care," said Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union, whose 2 million members include both parents and thousands of child care teachers and caregivers. "The 21st Century Child Care Investment Act would help ensure access to high-quality child care for the families that are already working so hard to provide a better life and future for their kids. Child care teachers, who often struggle to provide basic necessities for their own families, would be paid fairly for the important work they do. Children would benefit, parents would benefit, teachers would benefit, and America would take an important step toward making a child care system that works for all of us.”

Experts agree high quality child care can be life changing. Children in high quality programs enjoy developmental benefits that last well into adolescence. An analysis of dozens of studies suggests children in high quality care programs can gain a significant boost in language, literacy, and math skills. An NIH report found that teenagers who received high quality care as children outperformed their counterparts in academic and cognitive measures. High quality child care is essential to the development of millions of American children.

Under the program, a refundable tax credit would be paid monthly directly to providers, to help families who struggle to meet their bills every month. The credit would be available to families up to 400 percent of the poverty line. This credit could be worth as much as $14,000 a year annually. The proposed program also helps providers by allowing a five year transition into high quality standards, ensuring that they have adequate time to meet the new standards. Included under this program are considerations for standards of high quality care, including strong child care worker salaries.

The 21st Century Child Care Investment Act has received the support of the Center for American Progress, Service Employees International Union, and Child Care Aware® of America.