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Senate Democrats call on GAO to review child care access barriers for disabled parents, kids

Greg Nash

Democratic Sens. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.) and Bob Casey (Pa.) on Thursday asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review obstacles to child care access for disabled parents and children.

In the letter, the three lawmakers asked for currently available information about such barriers and how they intersect with race, ethnicity and income. They also requested information about current ways child care facilities are trying to address those barriers, including any training currently provided for providers.

“It is imperative that we address any issues with access to child care in order to achieve equitable care for this group of children and their families. Further, child care is a critical cornerstone for families to allow for parents to work outside of the home and for children to engage in social-emotional activities for their growth and development,” the three wrote.

“Families with children with disabilities face an uphill battle securing child care that meets the developmental needs of their children. Similarly, parents with disabilities face challenges accessing or effectively communicating with child care providers and services,” they added.

The letter further requested information about existing mechanisms for federal oversight of child care providers to ensure proper access, including interagency coordination. Duckworth, Hassan and Casey also asked for an overview of the costs and logistics of upgrades to facilities to improve accessibility.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits excluding disabled children from public accommodations, including child care facilities. It also bars segregation of children based on disability. However, little information is publicly available on the frequency of such practices. A 2020 report from the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress indicates parents of disabled children are about 10 percent more likely than parents of nondisabled children to report issues finding child care options.

A GAO spokesperson told The Hill it has received the letter and will go through the agency’s typical review process, which can take multiple weeks.

—Updated at 3:42 p.m.

Tags Bob Casey Child care Disability rights Government Accountability Office Maggie Hassan Tammy Duckworth

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