Padilla, Colleagues Introduce Child Care for Working Families Act

Bill would tackle the child care crisis and provide families with the child care and pre-K they need

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, reintroduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, comprehensive legislation to tackle the child care crisis and ensure families across America can find and afford the high-quality child care they need.

Across the country, too many families cannot find—or afford—the child care they need so parents can go to work and children can thrive. The worsening child care crisis is holding families, child care workers, businesses, and our entire economy back. Over the last three decades, the cost of child care has increased by 220 percent, forcing families—and mothers, in particular—to make impossible choices, and more than half of all families live in child care deserts. Meanwhile, child care workers are struggling to make ends meet on the poverty-level wages they are paid and child care providers are struggling to simply stay afloat. The crisis—which was exacerbated by the pandemic—is costing our economy dearly, to the tune of $122 billion in economic losses each year.

The Child Care for Working Families Act would tackle the child care crisis head-on: ensuring families can afford the child care they need, expanding access to more high-quality options, stabilizing the child care sector, and helping ensure child care workers taking care of our nation’s kids are paid livable wages. The legislation will also dramatically expand access to pre-K, and support full-day, full-year Head Start programs and increased wages for Head Start workers. Under the legislation, the typical family in America will pay no more than $10 a day for child care—with many families paying nothing at all—and no eligible family will pay more than seven percent of their income on child care. Before the pandemic, 6 in 10 Californians lived in a child care desert. In 2018, 58 percent of California child care workers’ families were on one or more public assistance programs.

“No parent should have to miss work because they don’t have access to child care, yet too many Californians either do not live near enough to a caregiver or cannot afford it,” said Senator Padilla. “As a father to three boys, I understand that having access to child care isn’t a luxury, it’s a critical necessity. Our country is facing a child care crisis and we have a duty to ensure every family, regardless of zip code, has access to reliable, high-quality child care.”

“Tackling the child care crisis isn’t just what families are counting on us to do—it’s a top economic imperative. I constantly hear from families making impossible tradeoffs to pay for child care, from parents—and too often, moms—forced to quit their jobs because they can’t find openings near them, and from child care workers struggling to just make ends meet,” said Senator Murray. “We’ve got to tackle this crisis head-on—and that’s exactly what the Child Care for Working Families Act will do. Our bill will transform child care in America—ensuring families in every part of our country can find and afford the child care they need to go to work and child care workers are paid the higher wages they deserve. Families are counting on us to deliver on child care, and this is absolutely critical for our future and our economy—let’s pass the Child Care for Working Families Act.”

The Child Care for Working Families Act will:

  • Make child care affordable for working families.
    • The typical family earning the state median income will pay about $10 a day for child care. 
    • No working family will pay more than seven percent of their income on child care.
    • Families earning below 85 percent of state median income will pay nothing at all for child care.
    • If a state does not choose to receive funding under this program, the Secretary can provide funds to localities, such as cities, counties, local governments, districts, or Head Start agencies.
  • Improve the quality and supply of child care for all children and expand families’ child care options by:
    • Addressing child care deserts by providing grants to help open new child care providers in underserved communities.
    • Providing grants to cover start-up and licensing costs to help establish new providers.
    • Increasing child care options for children who receive care during non-traditional hours.
    • Supporting child care for children who are dual-language learners, children who are experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
  • Support higher wages for child care workers.
    • Child care workers would be paid a living wage and achieve parity with elementary school teachers who have similar credentials and experience.
    • Child care subsidies would cover the cost of providing high-quality care.
  • Dramatically expand access to high-quality pre-K.
    • States would receive funding to establish and expand a mixed-delivery system of high-quality preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.
    • States must prioritize establishing and expanding universal local preschool programs within and across high-need communities.
    • If a state does not choose to receive funding under this program, the Secretary can provide funds to localities, such as cities, counties, local governments, districts, or Head Start agencies.
  • Better support Head Start programs by providing the funding necessary to offer full-day, full-year programming and increasing wages for Head Start workers.

Senator Padilla is also a cosponsor of the Child Care for Every Community Act, which would expand access to affordable child care to every American family, offer high-quality early education to every child, and create good jobs for our early educators.

The legislation is endorsed by: AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, All Our Kin, The Center for American Progress, The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Child Care Aware of America, Community Change Action, Council for Professional Recognition, Family Value @ Work, MomsRising, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), National Education Association (NEA), National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), Oxfam, Save the Children, Save the Children Action Network, SEIU, YWCA, Zero to Three, and First Five Years Fund.

In addition to Senators Padilla and Murray, the legislation is also sponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Steve Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John Fetterman (D-Penn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

A fact sheet on the legislation is available HERE.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.


This site is registered on as a development site.