Congress considers solutions to childcare crisis

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Many parents will spend as much on child care for their toddlers as they will for college tuition for their teens.

Members of Congress heard Thursday how the crisis is affecting families and caregivers.

“This is not the 1930s,” said Angelica Gonzalez, a single mother of three from Seattle, WA. “Staying at home is often not an option, even for two-parent households.”

Gonzalez told a House Education and Labor subcommittee that times have changed, but the childcare system hasn’t caught up. On her journey to becoming a law clerk, she lost jobs and housing due to issues with daycare costs.

“I have worked hard to have a career and independence,” Gonzalez said. “If I had access to quality and affordable childcare from the start, my careers and my kids’ lives would have looked very different.”

Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-CT, told Gonzalez she has the same story, and once she became a teacher, she said she saw how important quality daycare is.

“You could tell which students even at the high school level were enrolled in early childhood education programs,” Hayes said. 

A childcare provider from Oakland, CA told lawmakers it’s hard to maintain quality daycare when most caregivers make minimum wage.

“This really does not seem like a fair system,” Nancy Harvey said. “We are actually keeping America working, but yet ourselves, we fall short and are struggling to pay our own bills.”

Democrats said they came up with a solution in 2017 that would cap what families pay for childcare based on their income. It would also align the salaries of childcare workers with elementary school teachers that have similar credentials.

“Everyone is going to need help,” said Rep. Bobby Scott, D-VA, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “You cannot have a daycare system without subsidies.”

Scott said the bill has been gaining bipartisan support, but Republicans like the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-NC, want to make sure the childcare system doesn’t waste federal tax dollars. 

“We need to take a comprehensive look at how we’re using hardworking taxpayer funds to support the programs,” Foxx said.

The House Committee on Small Business also held a hearing Thursday over childcare costs and the impact on businesses. The committee reports companies nationwide lose more than $4 billion a year

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