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Election '08: Candidates pledge support for working families
December 2007

Child Care & Afterschool Care | Universal Preschool

Child Care & Afterschool Care:
Current Provisions:
Child care costs, regulations and quality assurances vary widely across all 50 states. In every region of the United States, child care fees for an infant are higher than the average amount that families spend on food; in 43 states, the price of full-time center-based infant care is higher than tuition at a public college (NACCRRA, 2007). Low-income parents and TANF recipients are eligible for child care subsidies through state and federal programs, but only a fraction of working parents who are eligible for subsidies receive them. Middle- and higher-income families benefit from the Dependent Care Tax Credit, which provides a tax credit for up to 35 percent of first $3,000 of child care expenditures for one child (or up to $6,000 for two). The federal Child Care Development Block Grant provides funds for improving the quality of the child care workforce through training and wage supplements and for the expansion of regulated child care facilities.

Hillary Clinton:

Barack Obama: John Edwards:

Address "current shortcomings" of the Dependent Care Tax Credit (no details specified);

Increase funding through the Child Care Development Block Grant to:

1) help states improve and enforce licensing and safety standards;

2) support public-private innovation to increase access to affordable, high-quality child care;

3) promote state-wide rating systems for parents seeking quality care;

4) improve training for child care workforce; Provide At Home Infant Care subsidies to qualified, low-income parents who want to stay at home rather than place an infant in child care.

Revise Dependent Care Tax Credit so that it is refundable and allows low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for child care costs;

Double federal funding for high-quality afterschool programs, including measures to maximize quality and performance of federally-funded afterschool programs nationwide.

Revise Dependent Care Tax Credit to make credit partially refundable to low-income families and provide a 50 percent credit for child care expenses up to $5,000;
Expand the DCTC to help at-home parents pay for newborn care;

Support states in implementing child care quality improvement programs, similar to North Carolina's Smart Start initiative, "which improves child care quality with certification and teacher training that leads to higher pay, reduced turnover and better outcomes for children."
The candidates' proposals focus on expanding and refining existing funding and tax credit systems which have only modestly improved the availability and affordability of quality care for most working families.
Universal Preschool:

Current Provisions:
As the result of recent studies finding that providing high-quality preschool for at-risk three- and four-year olds is extremely cost effective as a long-term social investment, proposals for funding universal preschool have gained momentum in a number of states. Nationwide, preschool enrollment varies by family income, with children in families with incomes above $50,000/year more likely to attend preschool than those in lower income families. Although programs such as Head Start are designed to improve the social and educational outcomes of very low-income and at-risk children, current programs fail to enroll even half of all three- and four-year olds in eligible families.

Hillary Clinton: Barack Obama: John Edwards:
Invest $10 billion in universal access to high-quality preschool for all four-year-olds through a federal-state partnership.

Launch Children's First Agenda to provide "care, learning and support" to families with children ages zero to five;

Increase funding for Head Start;

Create Early Learning Grants to help states create a system of high-quality early care and education for all young children.

Make quality preschool universally available for four-year olds, free to low-income families with sliding-scale tuition for higher income families.

In the states, there has been considerable debate about funding universal public preschool/pre-kindergarten for all children, versus funding universal access for low-income children and leaving higher income families to depend on market options as they do now. The argument centers on research finding that children in low-income and at-risk families benefit more from quality pre-school and pre-k programs than children in higher-income families do. However, some early education experts believe that children with special needs or barriers to social inclusion benefit from participation in classrooms with students of mixed abilities and family characteristics.

Tables & text:

Democratic front-runners pledge support for working families

Table 1:
Expanding the FMLA | Paid Family & Medical Leave | Paid Sick Days

Table 2:
Child Care & Afterschool Care | Universal Preschool

Table 3:
Workplace Flexibility | Family Responsibilities Discrimination | Additional Provisions

All tables - print version (.pdf)

mmo : december 2007

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