STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - September 26, 2008)
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By Mrs. LINCOLN (for herself, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Pryor):
S. 3620. A bill to amend the Social Security Act to enable States to carry out quality initiatives, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. President, I rise today with my colleague, Senator Blanche Lincoln to introduce a very important bill for our Nation's working families, the Child Care Investment Act of 2008. Throughout our Nation, so many families today are struggling to provide for their families. One important action we can take to support working parents is to help ensure that their children are taken care of in safe and affordable childcare, and, most importantly, that this childcare is available to them. Unfortunately, we know that so many families are not able to access childcare, much less childcare that is high quality. This leads some to leave their children with unqualified caregivers, and, too often, in a dangerous situation.
Because families were facing such dire shortages of affordable child care, Congress developed the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 that founded the CCDBG program. Since that time, this program has benefited low-income families by providing them with the help they need to remain employed, care for their children and have the peace of mind that their children are being well cared for. However, much more can be done to support and increase the funding for this important program. Recently, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, NACCRRA, released a report on the cost of child care for parents in our Nation.Their findings were startling and further underline the call to action that Senator Lincoln and I feel is necessary for working parents. The NACCRRA report says that the cost of child care is rising at nearly twice the rate of inflation in most states. In fact, my home state of Oregon is the ninth least affordable state for infant care in a child care center. They found that in Oregon, on average, nearly 46 percent of a single parent's salary goes towards child care for an infant. This study also found that in every region of our Nation, child care costs more than food.
During difficult economic times, the resources of families in our Nation become even more stretched. Decisions are often made within family budgets and sacrifices are made during times of lean. However, we owe it to our Nation's children to ensure that they are safe and cared for by responsible care providers while their parents work. Low-income parents should not be placed in a situation when they have to choose between their job and the safety of their children.
The bill that Senator LINCOLN and I are introducing today will work to ensure more quality children care is available as the cost of this care increase and family budgets are squeezed. This bill will increase funding for the CCDBG program from $2.9 billion to $4 billion. It will also incorporate new quality goals for States to ensure quality care is given to our Nation's children.
I thank Senator LINCOLN for her continuing commitment to this issue and to children in our Nation and ask my colleagues for their support of this legislation and quick passage.
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