Congresswoman Katherine Clark, who represents Framingham, introduced her first bill Tuesday, May 20, the Infant and Toddler Care Improvement Act of 2014, legislation that improves the quality of child care for children under the age of 3.
More than 6 million infants and toddlers receive care from someone other than their parents each week, and the quality of child care is often the most critical assurance parents need in order to continue working.
In addition to addressing the need for finding quality care, the Infant and Toddler Care Improvement Act focuses on the vital importance of providing quality care at the most crucial developmental stages in a child’s life, specifically from birth to age three.
“As the mother of three, I understand that parents want nothing more than to make sure that their kids are safe, healthy, and thriving,” said Clark. “Hardworking parents spend an extraordinary percentage of their income on child care. Even when they are able to get child care, they are not always sure that it meets the needs of their kids. This bill gives states the tools to ensure high quality in child care environments.”
Women are especially impacted by a lack of access to quality, affordable care. Making up two-thirds of minimum wage and tipped earners, women are disproportionately impacted by the high cost of child care. Recent data shows that low-income working mothers spend an average of 38 percent of their income on child care.
“High quality early childhood education and care is as close to a silver bullet as we are going to find to solve our economic challenges. It supports working families, creates economic opportunities for women and provides a great start for our youngest learners,” said Clark.
Clark’s bill updates the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), a federal program that provides child care subsidy grants to states. The Infant and Toddler Care Improvement Act is designed to give working parents the confidence they need about the quality of their child care so they can continue providing for their families. The bill enhances the federal program by providing strategies and best practices for improving the quality of infant and toddler care.
Research shows that at this stage of a child’s growth, as millions of synapses are being formed, quality care is critical for the development of the cognitive and behavioral skills.
Clark’s bill has drawn strong support from organizations advocating to improve the lives of women, working families and our youngest learners: AFSCME, Child Care Aware (formerly NACCRA), Child Care WORKS, CLASP, Early Care and Education Consortium, First Five Years Fund, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Women’s Law Center, SEIU, and Zero to Three.