Democrats on Capitol Hill introduced legislation to help working families pay for child care on Thursday.
The “Child Care for Working Families Act” would invest federal money in working families and child care providers.
Robyn Freedner-Maguire, campaign director for Let’s Grow Kids, a Vermont child care advocacy group, said the bill recognizes that most families rely on both parents working to make ends meet.
“More than 70 percent of Vermont children under the age of 6 have all of their parents in the labor force, meaning they’re likely to need some form of child care,” she said.
Lawmakers have been working on the legislation for months, but in recent weeks their case was bolstered by a report released by the left leaning policy group, the Center for American Progress, that found one half of all Americans, and nearly 40 percent of Vermonters, live in communities without any child care options or with so few providers they can’t get a slot for their children.
On Wednesday, CAP said nearly 2 million American parents and 2,056 Vermont parents, have had to quit a job, not accept a job or change jobs because of child care issues.
The legislation would provide federal dollars to middle- and low-income families to help bring down the cost of childcare by limiting what parents pay to 7 percent of their income.
Freedner-Maguire said that will be a big help since families with child care spend up to 40 percent of their household income on it.
The bill invests in child care workers who are often underpaid by guaranteeing a living wage.
Vermont child care workers make an average of $26,650 without benefits, according to Let’s Grow Kids. It is one of the top 10 occupations with the most openings on average a year.
“We encourage all members of Congress to support policies that prioritize investing in our youngest children. Decades of research have told us again and again that it’s the wisest investment a society can make,” Freedner-Maguire said.
The bill is part of the Democrats “Better Deal” platform, an agenda the party hopes to put in place if they win enough seats in the next election cycle.
It was introduced on Thursday by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash; Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.