FRANKFORT — As the cost of child care in the United States continues to grow, so does the chorus of voices calling on Congress to take action. For many working families, the cost of child care is one of their biggest monthly expenses, and legislation to help ease that burden has been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate.
Among those urging passage is Carla Moquin, president of the Parenting in the Workplace Institute.
“A lot of parents are in a position where child care is so expensive that it makes it almost impractical for them to even work, especially for minimum-wage, low-income employees,” she said. “I think it’s really critical, on a societal scale and on an individual family scale, to provide more options to these families.”
The cost of center-based day care varies widely from state to state, but the U.S. average is now nearly $12,000 per year.
The bills working through the committee process include SB 2565, a Senate plan to increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, along with HR 5000, a House proposal to put more funding into federal child-care program grants. The latter is cosponsored by Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth.
Moquin said it’s also critical to provide other support, since a growing number of moms have opted out of the workforce in the past decade, citing such reasons as the high cost of day care and limited job opportunities.
“We need to look at lots of options to make it workable for families: telecommuting options, on-site child care, making it easier for mothers to breastfeed,” she said. “We need to look at the bigger picture and all the different components that go into supporting families and making it possible for them to take care of their kids and have an income at the same time.”
Having access to stable and high-quality child care also is vital for lifelong success for kids, Moquin said, since the vast majority of a child’s brain development happens by age 5.
A recent Pew Research study found more women are staying home with their children, and also cites rising child-care costs as a factor.