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Statement of Congressman Danny K. Davis Committee on Ways and Means Markup of H.R. 3298, Child Care Quality and Access Act

Statement of Congressman Danny K. Davis

Committee on Ways and Means Markup of H.R. 3298, Child Care Quality and Access Act

June 20, 2019

The economic power of child care. That is how one writer summarized a recent report by the Boston Fed showing that affordable, quality child care is a critical part of our workforce infrastructure. This simple phrase – the economic power of child care – captures why we advance this bill today. Child care powers both family economic well-being and our national economic growth.  

People with children need to work to put food on the table and roofs over their heads. Child care gives them the power to work. But for many families, child care consumes so much of their income that they stay in poverty, even though they work full time. For families earning the national median income, the average cost of quality care for just one child under five would consume 18% of their income; for lower-income families, child care alone can cost as much as 30% of their pay. Other parents can’t work at all because child care costs exceed their earnings and still others are forced to take lower-paying jobs or turn down promotions because they simply can’t find the child care they need to make the jobs work.  This happened to Yvette McKinney from Chicago who is raising two grandsons. Mrs. McKinney had to quit her full-time job with strong benefits for a part-time job with greater flexibility because she could not afford full-time child care for her autistic grandson. 

We are not doing the best we can for Mrs. McKinney and others like her.  The U.S. lags behind other OECD countries in women’s labor force participation, and research identifies the high cost of child care as a critical reason. Even with recent increases in appropriated funding, our federal investment in child care for working Americans is about the same as it was over a decade ago, adjusting for inflation. Only 1 in 6 children eligible for child care assistance actually receives it. And every day, parents and grandparents face the same hard choices as Yvette McKinney.

Our Committee has an opportunity to change that. The Child Care Quality and Access Act of 2019 would invest an additional $1 billion a year in the child care that families across the country need. Our investment would raise an additional $700 million in state matching dollars, providing child care for nearly 200,000additional children each year. Our investment would pay further dividends by increasing child care quality for all parents who need child care because states will also use the additional funds for licensing, professional development, and the referral systems that help families find providers that meet their needs

Child care powers our economy by increasing parents’ labor force participation, spurring economic growth, and boosting tax revenue.  If each 1 percent increase in the overall workforce increases our national income by about $180 billion, then investing one billion dollars in child care promises serious economic benefits for our families and nation. Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences recently identified child care as one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to reduce child poverty and to increase employment and earnings.

Promoting work, reducing child poverty, growing our economy, and supporting parents and grandparents like Yvette McKinney who are doing their very best and still struggling - This sounds like the best kind of investment to me.

I ask the Chair unanimous consent to insert into the record letters of support for the Child Care Quality and Access Act from 32 national, state, and county organizations.

Congressman Davis serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support on the Committee of Ways and Means, with broad jurisdiction over a range of critical supports for workers, children, and families - including guaranteed federal funding for child care and child welfare.

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    repName Danny K. Davis  
    helpWithFedAgencyAddress Chicago District Office
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    district 7th District of Illinois  
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