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April 27, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY) andSenator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)reintroduced theUniversal Child Care and Early Learning Act, a comprehensive and bicameral bill that will ensure that every family has access to high-quality, affordable child care and early learning opportunities by establishing a network of federally supported, locally administered child care options. 

As a candidate for Congress, Jones made supporting the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, which was previously introduced by then-Congresswoman Deb Haaland, a top priority.

TheUniversal Child Care and Early Learning Act would have lasting positive effects, not just on children and families, but on the economy at large. A recent study from the National Women's Law Center and the Center on Poverty and Social Policy found that providing affordable, high-quality child care to every family that needs it would increase the number of women with young children working full-time by 17%, narrow the pay gap between women and men, and increase women's lifetime earnings by nearly $100,000 on average, with a corresponding increase in their savings and Social Security benefits.

Lack of access to high-quality, affordable child care prevents parents from fully participating in the workforce, holding them back from career and educational opportunities and placing a drag on our entire economy. Lack of affordable, high-quality care also means many children in the U.S. start kindergarten without the skills they need to reach their full potential.

"Today, in more than half the states in America, a year of child care costs more than a year of in-state college tuition," said Representative Jones. "In Westchester County, which is in my district, center-based care for an infant costs $21,000/year -- nearly the entire annual income of a family living at the federal poverty line. Our childcare system is deeply broken, and those who can least afford it are paying the highest price as a result. If we want a country, and an economy, that works for all Americans, we need universal child care. We need the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act. Our bill would transform child care as we know it in America by making it free of cost for families at or below 200% of the federal poverty line and capping costs at 7% of household income for families making more. As we work to Build Back Better, advancing universal child care is essential to ensuring an equitable and just economic recovery for all communities, which is why I'm proud to introduce this critical legislation."

"We must invest $700 billion to fix our broken child care system and ensure that women and families are not left behind in our recovery. Our legislation would guarantee all parents affordable access to safe and nurturing child care and early learning opportunities for their kids," said Senator Warren. "Expanding quality child care would create jobs, increase productivity, and have lifelong benefits for children's development and growth."

"Even before the pandemic our child care system was broken; it's failing working families, and especially working mothers. Now is the time to think big and bold to tear down the inequities working mothers and other parents face, and to tear down barriers to quality early education proven to set children up for long-term success," Senator Wyden said. "If we want to recover from the economic catastrophe of the last year, America needs a $700 billion investment in families by making affordable child care a reality for everyone."

Joining the legislation as cosponsors are Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernard Sanders (I-Ver.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), along with  Representatives André Carson (D-Ind.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-Ill.), Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and Grace Meng (D-Ill.). 

The legislation would fund a system of locally-run, affordable, and high-quality child care programs inspired by the bipartisan Comprehensive Child Development Bill of 1971, which was vetoed by President Nixon. The lawmakers' proposal builds on the successes of both the federal Head Start program and the U.S. Department of Defense military child care program. 

TheUniversal Child Care and Early Learning Act:

  • Ensures universal access: This legislation provides a mandatory federal investment to establish and support a network of locally-run Child Care and Early Learning Centers and Family Child Care Homes so that every family, regardless of their income or employment, can access high-quality, affordable child care options for their children from birth to school entry.  
  • Guarantees affordability: Families below 200% of the federal poverty line (about $53,000 for a family of four) could access these childcare options at zero cost. Families with higher incomes would pay a subsidized fee on a sliding scale based on their income, as in the military childcare program. No family would pay more than 7% of their income for these public childcare options.  
  • Invests in childcare workers: The legislation ensures parity by requiring that wages and benefits for childcare workers be comparable to those of similarly credentialed local public school teachers, and invests in worker training and professional development modeled after the military childcare program.  
  • Includes pre-Kindergarten educational services: The network of Centers and Family Child Care Homes would provide pre-K curriculum and educational services for children before they enter kindergarten. This legislation would also incentivize states and cities to expand their investments in early childhood education.  
  • Builds on existing programs: The legislation builds on the successful federal Head Start program to create a universal system for families that cannot access Head Start services, while preserving the Head Start program for families eligible for those services. It also maintains the Child Care and Development Fund to help low-income families access other care options, including extended hours and afterschool care for children up to age 13.  
  • Establishes Universal Child Care without increasing the deficit: After accounting for the economic impacts of this legislation, Moody's Analytics estimates that the program would cost the federal government approximately $70 billion per year or $700 billion over 10 years. Senator Warren's proposed Ultra-Millionaire Tax is projected to raise more than four times that amount of revenue over the same period. Consequently, if Congress funded this program using revenue from Senator Warren's proposed Ultra-Millionaire Tax, the program would not increase the deficit.

About Mondaire: Mondaire Jones is the 33-year-old Congressman from New York’s 17th District, serving Westchester and Rockland Counties. He serves on the House Judiciary, Education and Labor, and Ethics Committees and is the first openly gay, Black member of Congress. A product of East Ramapo public schools, Mondaire was raised in Section 8 housing and on food stamps in the Village of Spring Valley by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to provide for their family. He later graduated from Stanford University, worked at the Department of Justice during the Obama Administration, and graduated from Harvard Law School. He is a co-founder of the nonprofit Rising Leaders, Inc. and has previously served on the NAACP’s National Board of Directors and on the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Most recently, Mondaire worked as a litigator in the Westchester County Law Department. In November, Mondaire was unanimously elected by his colleagues to be the Freshman Representative to Leadership, making him the youngest member of the Democratic House leadership team. In December, Jones was appointed a Deputy Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and became a Co-Chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus. Mondaire was born and raised in Rockland, and resides in Westchester.