Senator Murray, along with child care policy experts from Center for American Progress and Child Care Aware, outlined what Murray’s child care proposal in the Build Back Better framework will mean for Washington state families
A former pre-school teacher, Senator Murray has fought to solve our child care crisis since she first got into office, and spearheaded the efforts to ensure that historic policies were included in the Build Back Better Senate framework announced last week
Under Murray’s plan, a family of four making $151,000 per year in Washington state would save $164 per week on child care
Senator Murray: “Here’s the bottom line: families will pay less, child care workers will earn higher wages, and child care providers will be able to increase the number of children they can serve.”
***WATCH VIDEO OF THE EVENT HERE***
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a former preschool teacher and Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, held a press call with Rasheed Malik, the Associate Director of Research for Early Childhood Policy at Center for American Progress, and Ryan Pricco, the Director of Policy & Advocacy at Child Care Aware Washington, to discuss Murray’s child care proposals in the Build Back Better framework that will cut child care costs for working families drastically and establish national, universal pre-K for the first time ever.
The Build Back Better child care and universal pre-K policies were modeled off of Senator Murray’s Child Care for Working Families Act, and will dramatically lower child care costs for the vast majority of working families in America, dramatically increase the number of child care providers nationwide, raise child care workers’ wages, and establish universal pre-k for every family.
“Here’s the bottom line: families will pay less, child care workers will earn higher wages, and child care providers will be able to increase the number of children they can serve. So finally in this country, our child care system does what it’s intended to—allow working parents to do their jobs knowing their kids are safe and taken care of,” said Senator Murray. “Instead of telling parents, ‘You’re own your own—figure it out,’ as we have done for too long, it’s time that we—as a country—say, ‘This is our problem, not just yours, and we’re in this together.’”
Right now, the country’s child care crisis is causing a massive financial strain on working families, forcing parents—and in particular, women—out of the workforce, and leaving child care workers unable to make ends meet. Child care is a major strain for families in Washington state, where the average annual cost of a child care center for a toddler is $13,476, meaning that a Washington state family with two young children would on average spend 29% of their income on child care for one year. At the same time, child care workers are struggling to make ends meet.
Under the child care proposal in the Build Back Better framework modeled off of Senator Murray’s Child Care for Working Families Act, families across the country would save an average of $5,000-$6,500 a year in child care costs and millions will pay nothing at all. For example, no family of four in Washington state making less than $254,000 would spend more than 7% of their income on child care once the program is fully implemented. Families earning very low incomes would spend even less, or nothing at all. A family of four making $151,000 in Washington state would save $164 per week on child care.
And even for families who can afford child care—too many can’t find it. More than 50% of Americans—and 60% of rural Americans—live in child care deserts, or communities with an inadequate supply of licensed child care—and this was before COVID-19 forced over 20,000 providers to close their doors. The Build Back Better budget would invest in building up our child care supply so that every family has access to quality child care that they can afford.
“The impact of this set of policies will be enormous for American families, for generations of children, and for our overall economy. For decades now, we’ve had incontrovertible and unanimous evidence supporting the fact that investments in young children’s’ education and health are the absolute best return on investment that we can make as a society,” said Rasheed Malik, Associate Director of Research for Early Childhood Policy at Center for American Progress “So I cannot support these set of policies any more, I’m thrilled to see these child care and universal pre-k investments through the Build Back Better Act, and they’re going to pay for themselves several times over in the future.”
“Currently in our state, you can make more money caring for people’s pets and cars then caring for people’s young children,” said Ryan Pricco, Director of Policy & Advocacy at Child Care Aware Washington. “The child care industry has the capacity to serve, we estimate, about half of real demand for child care, and most parents in Washington live in a child care desert. Child care costs currently more in Washington than tuition at our state universities and the lack of access to child care impacts our economy. A lack of child care for employees is currently costing employers in our state billions of dollars every year in expenses related to employee turnover and loss of workplace productivity related to child care. So for those reasons and more, Washington needs the Build Back Better proposal.”
Senator Murray’s child care and universal pre-k policies in Build Back Better will address this crisis by:
- establishing universal pre-k so every family has access to pre-kindergarten for children ages 3 and 4;
- providing subsidies to the vast majority of working families in the United States—so that no eligible working family has to pay more than 7% of their income on child care. Specifically,
- working families earning up to 250% of the median income in their state (SMI), or about $300,000 a year nationally, would be eligible for child care assistance,
- those earning less than 75% of the SMI wouldn’t pay anything at all,
- families would pay for child care based on an income-based sliding scale, ensuring no eligible family pays more than 7 percent of income on child care;
- significantly expanding the number and improving the quality of child care providers across the country, which would benefit every single family who needs child care; and
- supporting higher wages for child care workers—most of whom are women and workers of color.