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March 10, 1998

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With more families relying on two incomes or working longer hours to make ends meet, millions of children must spend time in care away from their parents. For them, child care is not just an option, it's a necessity. No parent should have to choose between the job they need and the child they love.

- President Bill Clinton
March 10, 1998

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

The Child Care and Development Block Grant: Report of State Plans released today 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 that because of resource constraints, most states have insufficient funds to subsidize all the families meeting their eligibility requirements. The President's Child Care Initiative addresses the need for more resources and builds on innovation in the states and makes 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.

Ensuring Affordable, Accessible, Safe Child Care. The President's child care initiative responds to the struggles our nation's working parents face in finding child care they can afford, trust and rely on. The initiative:

  • Makes child care more affordable for working families. The initiative invests $7.5 billion over five years to double the number of children receiving child care subsidies to more than two million by the year 2003. The initiative also invests $4.8 billion over five years to increase tax credits for child care for three million families and provides a new tax credit for businesses that offer child care services to their employees at a cost of $500 million over five years.
  • Improves the safety and quality of child care. The initiative: steps up enforcement of state health and safety standards in child care settings, facilitates background checks on child care providers, increases scholarships and training for child care providers, and invests in child care research and evaluation.
  • Increases access to and promotes early learning and healthy child development. The initiative includes $3 billion over five years to establish an Early Learning Fund that helps local communities improve the quality and safety of child care for children ages zero to five. The initiative also increases investment in Head Start and doubles the number of children served by Early Head Start to 80,000.
  • Expands access to safe after-school care. The initiative increases the 21st Century Learning Center Program by $800 million over five years to provide after-school care for up to half a million children a year.
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 issues today instructs all executive agencies to:
  • Reach 100% national accreditation of federally-sponsored child care by the year 2000;
  • Ensure proper background checks on child care workers in federally-sponsored child care;
  • Explore public-private partnerships to improve child care quality and affordability; and
  • Ensure that all federal workers have full information on child care benefits and options available to them.

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