Universal Child Care
This week, I was proud to join Senator Elizabeth Warren in the fight for universal child care by introducing the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act.
Our bill would transform child care as we know it in America by making it affordable for everyone. It would establish a network of locally run Child Care and Early Learning Centers and Family Childcare Homes so that every family, regardless of income or employment, can obtain high-quality child care. Cost should not be a barrier to child care, which is why, under our legislation, families at or below 200% of the federal poverty line could enroll their children in childcare programs at no cost. Everyone else would not pay more than 7% of their household income towards child care.
The issue of child care is personal for me. Growing up, my mom got help raising me from my grandparents. My grandmother cleaned homes for a living, and when day care was too expensive, she had to take me to work with her. To this day, I’m grateful my grandmother was able to help care for me, but I have no idea what my mother would have done had she not been able to rely on my grandmother. In the richest nation in the world, no child should have to accompany a guardian to work because child care is too expensive.
This is true for people throughout our community. Thousands of children in Westchester and Rockland live below the poverty line, and I was one of them. In fact, New York is one of the 10 least affordable states for center-based infant care, center-based toddler care, and center-based care for 4-year-olds. In Westchester County, in particular, center-based care for an infant costs $21,000/year -- nearly the entire annual income of a family living at the federal poverty line. That’s why as a candidate for Congress, I made fighting for universal child care, and sponsoring this bill specifically, a top priority. Now I’m the lead sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives.
Our bill would be transformative not only for families, but also for childcare providers, who are overwhelmingly women of color and seldom paid what they deserve. It would require that childcare providers receive pay and benefits comparable to similarly credentialed public school teachers, and would invest in training and professional development for these workers.
As we work to Build Back Better, advancing universal child care is essential to ensuring an equitable and just economic recovery for all communities. If we want a country, and an economy, that works for all Americans, we need universal child care and that starts with our bill, the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act.
As always, my office is here to serve you. If you or your family need assistance with federal agencies or in response to COVID-19, please call my office at (914) 323-5550.
Member of Congress