Casey and Advocates Discuss Child Care Bill and Hold Symposium

WASHINGTON, DC-U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined Pennsylvania and national advocates today to discuss landmark legislation introduced by Senator Casey that would reverse chronic underfunding of child care and increase the availability of high-quality child care to children in low-income and working class families.  This gross underfunding over the last seven years has left only one in seven eligible children receiving federal assistance and the national average wage for child care workers is barely above the poverty line.   

“I am pleased to be joined today by so many well-respected advocates who work hard every day on behalf of children,” said Senator Casey.  “My Starting Early, Starting Right legislation has the support of many groups who work on the frontlines on child care issues.  At today’s seminar we will discuss not only my bill, but the many challenges and issues concerning early childhood for children, families and our nation.” 

Senator Casey was joined at the press conference by Harriett Dichter, the Deputy Secretary in the Office of Child Development and Early Education at the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Public Welfare; Miriam Calderon, the Senior Policy Director of the National Council of La Raza; and Dr. Del Elliott, Director of the Blueprints for Violence Prevention at the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

Senator Casey’s legislation has the endorsement of 50 national and Pennsylvania advocacy groups. 

Approximately 13.5 million federally eligible children do not receive child care assistance.   

In 2006, the national average wage for a child care worker was $9.05 per hour or $18,820 annually.  For full-time work, this is only slightly above the 2006 poverty guidelines of $16,600 for a mother with two children. 

Due to low wages and limited benefits, many child care workers do not remain in the field very long.  Of those workers employed in child care in 2005, only 65 percent remained employed in child care in 2006, creating high turnover rates and instability in this workforce that is so critical to the well being of children. 

Starting Early, Starting Right would drastically increase funding available for programs that offer child care to children up to 13 years of age who are in low-income families.  The bill would increase federal child care funding by $10 billion a year.  This increase would triple the current funding level of $5 billion a year. 

Since FY 2002, federal funding of child care has been essentially frozen, while inflation and the economic needs of families have steadily increased.  Today, only one in seven eligible children receives federal child care assistance.  Across the country, hundreds of thousands of children are on waiting lists for child care assistance and may wait months or years for help.  Some states no longer keep waiting lists due to lack of funding.   

The Starting Early, Starting Right Act will address this enormous unmet need by increasing funding for child care, with the dual goals of helping more families afford child care and improving the quality of early care. The bill will increase the quality of care by, among other things, ensuring states visit and monitor child care providers on an announced as well as an unannounced basis every year and requiring child care providers who are licensed or registered to participate in 40 hours of training before they work with children as well as 24 hours on an ongoing annual basis.  The bill will also help increase compensation for qualified child care providers.   

Since entering the Senate in 2007, Senator Casey has been a leader on children’s issues.  He was a leading voice during the unfortunately unsuccessful attempt last year to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  He continues to fight the Bush Administration’s CHIP directive that would severely limit the ability of states to enroll children in the CHIP program.  Last year, Senator Casey introduced the Preparing All Kids Act to provide at least one-year of high-quality pre-kindergarten education to children. 

The following advocates attended Senator Casey’s Starting Early, Starting Right, A New National Dialogue on the Value and Significance of Early Childhood seminar: 

1.         Sue Badeau, Executive Director, Philadelphia Commission on Children 

2.         Joan Benso, Executive Director, PA Partnerships for Children 

3.         Helen Blank, Director of Leadership and Policy, National Women's Law Center 

4.         Miriam Calderon, Senior Policy Director, National Council of La Raza 

5.         JooYeun Chang, Director of Public Policy, Casey Family Programs  

6.         Harriet Dichter, Deputy Secretary, Office of Child Development and Early Learning, PA Departments of Education and Public Welfare  

7.         Sharon Easterling, Executive Director, Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children  

8.         Del Elliott, Director, Blueprints for Violence Prevention  

9.         Danielle Ewen, Director of Child Care and Early Education  

10.       Deborah Frank, Director, Grow Clinic for Children  

11.       Chester Harhut, Trustee, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges  

12.       Lynn Karoly, Director, Office of Research Quality Assurance, the RAND Corporation  

13.       Jane Knitzer, Director, National Center for Children in Poverty  

14.       Ruth Mayden, Director, Annie Casey Foundation  

15.       Pat McCann, Associate Professor, Teacher/Education Department  

16.       Jennie Niles, Founding Principal, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School  

17.       Q. Thomas Novinger, Medical Director, Children's Advocacy Center of NE Pennsylvania

18.       Adele Robinson, Associate Executive Director, Policy and Public Affairs

National Association for the Education of Young Children  

19.       Miriam Rollin, Vice President, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids  

20.      Elizabeth Spelke, Professor, Harvard University  

21.       Ross Thompson, Professor, University of California, Davis  

22.       Elaine Zimmerman, Executive Director, Connecticut Commission on Children







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