WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) issued the following statement after the Senate approved S. 1086, the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG), which is sponsored by fellow Maryland Senator Barbara A. Mikulski. Congress has not reauthorized the CCDBG in nearly two decades, dating back to comprehensive welfare reform under President Clinton in 1996. At that time, then Rep. Cardin served as the Ranking Member of the Human Resources Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, which had jurisdiction over mandatory child care funding and welfare programs more generally.
“Working together, in a bipartisan manner as we are doing successfully with the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, we can help American families succeed and we can strengthen America. The Senate has set aside partisanship long enough to strengthen opportunities for creating a safe environment for children to learn that also allows parents to work. This pays off for the entire family and our local communities.
“I commend Senator Mikulski, for all her hard work on this legislation, in particular her work with the Children and Families Subcommittee of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Today, the CCDBG services approximately 1.6 million eligible children each month, and is administered to states in formula block grants. In FY 2014, the CCDBG program was funded at $2.36 billion in discretionary funding, and $2.9 billion in mandatory funding, for a total of approximately $5.3 billion for child care subsidies.
“We know that quality subsidized child care contributes to young children’s readiness to school, and studies have shown a strong improvement in school readiness for students who were part of quality subsidized child care programs before starting kindergarten. The cruel irony is that child care costs represent a very large part of a family’s budget and is increasing faster than the rate of increases for family income, particularly for low-income families.
“We need to help, and that’s what this program does. We want families to have the opportunity to move up the economic ladder and not be a burden on a cash assistance program. Providing quality child care is quite simply a prudent investment in our future, our children, and our nation’s workforce.”
According to the HELP Committee, child care is the highest household expense faced by dual income households, averaging over $14,000 a year for two children. Low-income families spend nearly one-third of their income on child care every month. Single mothers spend nearly half of their monthly wages on child care. In Maryland, according to Child Care Aware of America, the 2011 annual child care center costs for an infant was over $12,000, and for a 4-year-old was over $9,000.