For America to continue to build on the strong foundation of the last two centuries, future generations must continue to innovate and thrive. For this to happen, we need to provide every child with the opportunity to build a successful life and prevent disadvantaged children and families from falling victim to cycles of poverty and abuse.
Last Congress, I championed the reauthorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act, the nation's only federal housing and assistance program for homeless youth. Each year, nearly 2 million children face homelessness in America, and my legislation, which was signed by into law in late 2007, expands housing, transitional living, and street outreach services to ensure that disadvantaged youth are given the chance to succeed. During the 111th Congress, I led the effort to urge the Appropriations Committee to increase funding for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth program and the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs.
We have also worked to improve the effectiveness of a number of key programs, including Head Start, the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, the Community Service Block Grant, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund. All of these programs help protect our children and families.
For many working parents, finding good day care for their children or ailing parent during work hours is difficult. Today, the average cost of child care ranges between $5,000 to $14,000 a year. In this tough economy, we need to help parents join the workforce by decreasing the burden of dependent and child care costs. Congress created the dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) for the purpose of aiding families facing high day care costs. The current DCFSA offers employees a pre-tax account limited at $5,000 that families can use toward day care for children or dependents during work hours. However, with inflation and skyrocketing child care prices, the benefit has not kept up with rising costs. Nearly every family that currently uses a DCFSA outspends their account before the end of the year.
That is why I introduced the Expanding Dependent and Child Care Act, which will expand the DCFSA by increasing the cap to $7,500 for families and indexing it to inflation on an annual basis, thus providing more financial relief to parents coping with rising child and adult care costs.
I believe we can make great strides in reducing poverty and give all children a chance at the American Dream if we commit to it. To this end, I will support and improve programs that empower families and individuals to increase their own economic independence and productivity; create strong, healthy, supportive communities; and develop programs that have a positive impact on the quality of life and the development of children. By striving for these goals in the 111th Congress, I hope to carry on this tradition of family, community, and responsibility in Louisville and across the country.