President Clinton Callsfor Child Care That Strengthens America's Families

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Today, President Clinton renewed his call to make child care better, safer, and more affordable for America's working families. In a speech in Connecticut, the President issued an executive directive to improve federally-sponsored child care, and announced the release of a new report by HHS which reveals a pressing need for greater child care investment.

Ensuring the Quality of the Federal Child Care System. The President believes that the federal government should lead the way in improving the child care it sponsors for its employees. The executive directive President Clinton issued today instructs all executive agencies to: (1) reach 100 percent national accreditation of federally-sponsored child care by the year 2000 (accreditation is done by gateway.html, non-governmental professional organizations to validate safety and quality; criteria include developmental programming, staff training, appropriate staff-to-child ratios, as well as health, safety and facility standards); (2) ensure proper background checks on child care workers in federally-sponsored child care; (3) explore public-private partnerships to improve child care quality and affordability; and (4) ensure that all federal workers have full information on child care benefits and options available to them. The executive branch of the federal government operates 1,024 child care centers -- 788 by the military, 109 by the General Services Administration, and 127 by other federal departments -- and the military sponsors nearly 10,000 professional family child care providers. In total, about 215,000 children are in federally-sponsored child care.

New Report Points to Innovation But Limited Resources In the States. The Child Care and Development Block Grant: Report of State Plans outlines strategies that the states have developed to administer the Child Care and Development Block Grant and meet the pressing child care needs of working families. The report reveals:

*States need more resources to help working families afford child care. The welfare law allows states to use the Child Care and Development Block Grant to provide child care subsidies to lower-income working families -- defined as families with less than 85 percent of state median income. This new report shows that because of resource contraints, some states set eligibility levels far below what is allowed by federal law. For example, in 10 states, a family of three with as little as $20,000 of income is not eligible for any help with child care costs. In as many as 37 states, a family of three with $28,000 of income is not eligible for a child care subsidy. Further, most states have insufficient funds even to subsidize all families meeting their eligibility requirements.

*States have innovative strategies to improve child care quality, such as scholarships and basic training for child care providers, tax credits for businesses that offer child care services, initiatives to link the child care and health care communities, support for resource and referral services, and initiatives to expand school-age care.

*The President's Child Care Initiative Addresses the Need for More Resources And Builds on Innovation in the States. The President's balanced budget calls for an historic investment -- more than $20 billion over five years -- to help working families pay for child care, build the supply of after-school programs, improve child care safety and quality, and promote early learning.

*Connecticut is Improving Child Care Quality. Connecticut recently passed bipartisan School Readiness Legislation to improve child care quality and promote early learning.

Contact: HHS Press Office (202) 690-6343
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