WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee, joined a coalition of Democrats in the House and Senate to unveil the Child Care for Working Families Act, a comprehensive plan to address early learning and child care issues for working families. The bill would improve access to quality early childhood education and make sure affordable child care is available to families, even at non-traditional work hours.
“Balancing work and family is central to the challenges facing many New Mexicans and too often the soaring cost of child care puts a significant strain on a family budget. Currently, many parents have to choose between child care and returning to work or finishing their degree,” said Senator Heinrich. “This legislation takes a two-generation approach to increase opportunities for families. By improving access to early childhood education and quality child care, both children and parents are better prepared to succeed.”
Senator Heinrich has led efforts to level the playing field for New Mexico children and families. He introduced the bipartisan Two Generation Economic Empowerment Act that takes a new approach to fighting poverty by focusing on building a strong foundation in early learning for children, and workforce development and college attainment for parents to help families grow together and get on a more prosperous path.
Research shows that parents are putting off returning to the workforce because of the increased cost of child care. In New Mexico, the median annual income in is $45,382, while the average annual cost of child care is nearly $8,000 - more than the annual tuition at the state's public colleges and a significant financial burden for many families. Families also face the challenge of accessing quality child care. More than 97,000 children under age 6 in New Mexico have either two working parents or a single working parent, yet the state only has the ability to serve a little over 70,000 children in child care centers.
The Child Care for Working Families Act would address the current early learning and care crisis by ensuring that families have the access to affordable child care. It would improve child care during non-traditional hours to help meet the needs of working families. The bill would also support universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year olds. Finally, the bill would significantly improve compensation and training for the child care workforce to ensure that our nation’s teachers and caregivers have the support they need, as well as the children they are caring for, to thrive.
The Joint Economic Committee Democrats will be releasing a report tomorrow on the importance of investing in high-quality, universal pre-K in meeting the needs of working families and setting all children on the path to succeed.