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Location: Washington, DC



S. 2661. A bill to create a 3-year pilot program that makes small, nonprofit child care businesses eligible for loans under title V of the Small Business Investment Act of 1958; to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, as we explore ways to help the working families in America, we should not forget the many working parents who face difficulty finding quality, affordable child care. Approximately 6 out of 10 children are cared for by someone other than their parents on a regular basis. And far too many children are left home alone before they are ready. Across America, more households than ever are struggling to make ends meet, while providing safe, nurturing environments for their children to grow up in. For many, child care is not a choice, but a necessity. We owe it to America's families to increase the availability of quality child care.

I believe one way to support this goal is to expand financing options for non-profit child care centers. That is why I am reintroducing the Child Care Lending Pilot Act, which establishes a three-year pilot program enabling small, non-profit child care businesses to be eligible for the SBA's 504 loans. Under current law, for-profit child care small businesses have access to these loans to finance facility expansions and building repairs but non-profit centers are shut out. Since the majority of child care centers in many states are non-profit, this exclusion blocks needed resources from the facilities serving the majority of our families. The Child Care Lending Pilot Act addresses this problem and allows the centers to better serve the children they care for. With low, predictable monthly payments, these non-profit centers can improve their buildings and materials without breaking the bank or raising fees.

This industry is not one with high-earnings overall, so access to capital is particularly difficult. Balancing the needs of maintaining a qualified staff while providing care that families can afford is difficult at best. Calling for reductions in operating costs can result in decreased safety and quality in the children's environment that should be structured to foster their learning and development. The cost of child care--ranging anywhere from around $4,000 to over $15,000 a year--is highly prohibitive for many families and limited options only exacerbate this problem.

Not only is child care extremely expensive, but there are simply not enough spaces. Nearly 14.5 million children under the ages 6 years old have working parents and need child care. But there are only an estimated 10.8 million legally-operating spaces for both young and school-aged children.

Non-profit child care centers are a resource for America's working families and deserve the same opportunities for-profit centers have with access to SBA's 504 loans. This is one clear step forward that we can take to help solve this problem and invest in our children. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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