(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono joined other Senate Democrats to reintroduce the Child Care for Working Families Act.
The bill seeks to expand access to high-quality, affordable early childhood programs for working and middle class families, a Hirono media release stated. A companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
“Child care is foundational for future academic and social success, yet remains unaffordable and unavailable for many working and middle class families in Hawaii – who face the highest cost of living in the country,” Senator Hirono said. “At nearly $700 per month, child care is the second highest household expense after housing for most families – surpassing the amount they spend on food, utilities, transportation or health care. The Child Care for Working Families Act represents a long-term investment in our keiki to ensure that every family can access high-quality, affordable early learning and child care programs.”
According to Sen. Hirono’s office:
For families in Hawaii, child care expenses have increased, on average, by 24 percent over the last decade, with many families expected to pay over $8,000 for child care every year. According to a 2018 report by Child Care Aware of America, nearly half of Hawaii’s children under the age of six lack access to child care, resulting in a shortage of 30,000 certified child care slots in the state. The Child Care for Working Families Act represents a long-term investment in child care to ensure that no family making 150 percent of state median income or less has to contribute more than seven percent of their income toward child care, regardless of the number of children they have.
Additionally, the bill also increases funding for Head Start in order to promote universal access to high-quality preschool programs, and improves compensation and training for child care workers to give teachers and caregivers full and fair compensation, as well as the support they need to ensure that the children they are caring for can thrive.
According to the Center for American Progress, investing in the Child Care for Working Families Act would generate 2.3 million new jobs as a result of parents joining the workforce, as well as the expansion of child care and early education sector jobs. As a result of an investment in child care and early education, the report stated it expects the Child Care for Working Families Act would lift one million families out of poverty, which would substantially improve a child’s social and academic development.