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Congress Looks to Cut Cost of Child Care

PHOTO: With the growing cost of child care in the country, efforts are under way in Washington to provide more financial supports for low-income and working families. Photo credit: Todd Hryck/Flickr.
PHOTO: With the growing cost of child care in the country, efforts are under way in Washington to provide more financial supports for low-income and working families. Photo credit: Todd Hryck/Flickr.
July 23, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas - As the cost of child care in this country continues to grow, so does the chorus of voices calling on Congress to take action. For many working families, the cost of child care is one of their biggest monthly expenses and legislation to help ease that burden has been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate.

Among those urging passage is Carla Moquin, president of the Parenting in the Workplace Institute.

"A lot of parents are in a position where child care is so expensive that it makes it almost impractical for them to even work, especially for minimum-wage, low-income employees," she said, "And so I think it's really critical on a societal scale and on an individual family scale to provide more options to these families."

The cost of center-based day care varies widely from state to state, but the U.S. average is now nearly $12,000 per year.

The bills working through the committee process include SB 2565, a Senate plan to increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, along with HR 5000, a House proposal to put more funding into federal child-care program grants.

Moquin said it's also critical to provide other support, since there's been a growing number of moms opting out of the workforce in the past decade, citing reasons such as the high cost of day care and limited job opportunities.

"We need to look at lots of options to make it workable for families: telecommuting options, on-site child care, making it easier for mothers to breastfeed," she said. "We need to look at the bigger picture and all of the different components that go into supporting families and making it possible for them to take care of their kids and have an income at the same time."

Having access to stable and high-quality child care also is vital for life-long success for kids, Moquin said, since the vast majority of a child's brain development happens by age 5.

The texts of SB 2565 and HR 5000 are online. A Pew Research study on working moms is at pewsocialtrends.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX