Warren introduces universal child care legislation

Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would use federal funds to establish universal child care. 

The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act seeks to combat the rise of rising child care costs in the face of stagnated wages with a focus on low-income families. The bicameral bill is cosponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) — like Warren, a 2020 White House hopeful — and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), John Larson (Conn.), Grace Meng (N.Y.) and Stephen Horsford (Nev.), as well as Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

{mosads}“As the wealthiest country in the world, access to affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right for all families rather than a privilege for only the rich,” Warren said in a statement. “Our legislation would give all parents the opportunity to choose the right child care and early learning opportunities for their kids.” 

“Childcare and early learning should not be a luxury that only people with money have access to, but right now that’s the status quo in this country,” Haaland echoed. “If we’re going to get serious about ending the cycle of poverty in New Mexico and the entire country, we need to invest in universal childcare and early learning.” 

The bill would mandate an unquantified federal investment to establish and support a network of locally-run Child Care and Early Learning Centers and Family Child Care Homes to ensure that every family can access affordable child care options from birth to school entry. It also provides free child care to families below 200 percent of the poverty line, while families with higher incomes would pay a subsidized fee on a sliding scale based on their income.

The network of Centers and Family Child Care Homes would provide pre-K education and offer mental and physical health, dental, and other services to children who need them.

The legislation also mandates that wages and benefits for child care workers be comparable to those of local public school teachers and that investments are made in worker training and professional development.

Warren and Haaland touted the endorsements of several national advocacy and social justice organizations.

“I applaud the work by Senator Warren and Representative Haaland to ensure that every child, regardless of background or social status, has equal access to the high-quality, affordable child care and education opportunities that lay the foundation for our children’s success in school and in life,” said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. 

Warren and Haaland noted that the introduction comes after the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked New Mexico, Haaland’s home state, 50th in overall child wellbeing.

Warren has enjoyed a boost in 2020 primary polls after unveiling a slate of detailed policy proposals, largely focused on economic issues.

Tags Barbara Lee Cory Booker Deb Haaland Early childhood education Eleanor Holmes Norton Elizabeth Warren Grace Meng Jamie Raskin Jeff Merkley John Larson Mark Pocan Universal Child care Universal preschool
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