Wednesday, September 06, 2006

At Home Infant Care, now in Congress

Thanks to Devra at Parentopia for the alert on this bill in Congress now, introduced by Rosa DeLaura, on funding for At-Home Infant Care (AHIC). I wrote about AHIC in The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars, from the perspective of how the women at WEEL in Montana had organized, lobbied, and made AHIC into legislation at the state level. How excellent it would be for families to have more support for staying home with infants if that's what they want to do.

Here's the press release.

Friday, July 28, 2006 (202) 225-3661

DeLauro Bill Offers Families Option of At-Home Child Care for Infants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.-3) today introduced
"Choices in Child Care Act of 2006,” legislation that establishes an at-home
infant care program that will give thousands of working families the help
they need to balance work and provide quality care for their infant children.
The legislation gives parents the choice of using a state child care subsidy to
obtain infant care outside the home or of keeping the subsidy so they can
stay home and care for their child themselves without risking their family’s
financial security.
“When Congress passed welfare reform in 1996 it also promised to provide
increased funding for child care services and that it has failed to honor that
promise,” said DeLauro. “The result is that stagnant federal funding and state
cutbacks have left working families with less access as well as reduced
levels of assistance. As such, we must work to increase the federal commitment to
child care funding. But at the same time, we should provide parents with
more choices –– particularly at the earliest stages of life.”
Research shows that the quality of care-taking in the first months and years
of life is critical to a newborn’s brain development, social development and
well-being. In fact, 55 percent of women with infants younger than one years
of age work. Yet there is currently a severe shortage of safe, affordable,
quality care for infants. The number of licensed child care slots for infants
meets only 18 percent of the need. The shortage is particularly acute in rural
areas, and especially in rural areas with many low-income residents.
One obvious solution for parents who need affordable, high-quality care for
their infant is to provide that care themselves. Unfortunately, in many low-
and moderate-income families, having a parent quit his or her job or reduce
work hours to care for an infant is not financially viable. Doing so would
plunge the family into an economic crisis.
The bill amends the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to allow low-
and moderate-income parents the option of forgoing a state child care subsidy
for infant care outside the home and instead receiving a comparable stipend
to provide the care themselves while keeping the family economically stable.
“The time has come to restart the dialogue in this country about the
importance of federal child care funding,” said DeLauro. “One way we can do that is
by supporting parents who want to stay home with their infants.”

1 comment:

jen said...

Here, here. I've worked w/ homeless families for a decade, through the welfare reforms, through the welfare to work requirements, and it's consistently ignored that many families below the poverty line pay equal in child care as they do in a minimum wage earning job - without much of a choice. Great post.