Congresswoman Clark visits Malden Head Start, calls for childcare cost relief through tax credit bill
Last week U.S. Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5) visited with the ABCD Malden Head Start staff and students to draw attention to the rising cost and importance of quality, affordable childcare. To make this educational and economic necessity a reality for more families, the Congresswoman introduced legislation titled the 21st Century Child Care Investment Act, which would help ensure that all families have access to quality childcare.
“High-quality affordable childcare is essential to the success of our kids and economy. Unfortunately, it is out of reach for too many families,” said the Congresswoman. “I introduced the 21st Century Child Care Investment Act to ensure every family and every child has a fair shot at their dream.”
Under the program, a refundable tax credit would be paid monthly directly to providers, to help families who struggle to meet their bills every month. The credit would be available to families up to 400 percent of the poverty line. This credit could be worth as much as $14,000 a year annually. The proposed program also helps providers by allowing a five-year transition into high-quality standards, ensuring that they have adequate time to meet the new standards. Included under this program are considerations for standards of high-quality care, including strong childcare worker salaries.
Research from the Economic Policy Institute reports that the cost of childcare is now comparable to the average monthly cost of rent or a mortgage payment. Massachusetts families face an even steeper uphill climb. Following only behind Washington, D.C., the Commonwealth is the most expensive state in the country for childcare with the average annual cost of infant care at $17,000 while childcare for a four-year-old costs almost $13,000 per year. Childcare is considered affordable by federal standards set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services if it costs no more than 7 percent of a family’s income. By this measure, daycare is affordable for less than one in every five Massachusetts families.
Experts agree high-quality child care can be life-changing. Children in high-quality programs enjoy developmental benefits that last well into adolescence. An analysis of dozens of studies suggests children in high-quality care programs can gain a significant boost in language, literacy and math skills. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) report found that teenagers who received high-quality care as children outperformed their counterparts in academic and cognitive measures. High-quality child care is essential to the development of millions of American children.
The 21st Century Child Care Investment Act has received the support of the Center for American Progress, the Service Employees International Union, and Child Care Aware®.