A bipartisan group of legislators pushed on Tuesday for support of legislation that would reauthorize a program that helps pay for childcare so parents can re-enter the workforce.
Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) called for Senate support of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act.
CCDBG was established in welfare reform legislation that was passed in 1996. The program provides vouchers for childcare to encourage employment and economic self-sufficiency among parents.
"CCDBG is a welfare reform success story that encourages personal responsibility," Burr said. "The transparency we incorporate in this law will go a long way toward making parents well-informed consumers of childcare and improve the safety of the programs. It is of particular importance to me that federal dollars will no longer go to childcare providers who have been convicted of violent crimes. CCDBG also places an emphasis on improving the quality of our childcare facilities over the next several years. This is not another Washington entitlement but an investment in the self-sufficiency of some of our hardest working families."
Burr and Mikulski led the effort to include reforms that are intended to improve childcare in the reauthorization bill. The measure would require states to fund quality-care initiatives such as training, professional development and professional advancement of the childcare workforce.
"Each year, the Child Care Development Block Grant program helps more than 1.5 million low-income children nationwide, including 39,000 in Tennessee, have the kind of early learning and care that can help put them on the same starting line as other children," Alexander said. "The program works because it supports parents going to work or getting an education, and gives them the freedom to choose the child care that is right for their family. With this reauthorization, which passed our committee unanimously, Sens. Burr and Mikulski have given us a model for getting results in the Senate."
The bill would require CCDBG providers to meet health and safety requirements and require states to focus on infant and toddler care initiatives. Mandatory background checks would also be required for childcare providers under the bill.
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