FTP for TV stations of her remarks is available here.
“The lack of resources for child care in this country is hurting our children, our families, and our economy. We must expand access to child care now.”
Washington, D.C. – Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) took to the Senate floor today to urge her colleagues to bring down child care costs for families by extending the federal child care program, which expired this year due to a lack of Congressional action.
Cortez Masto told the story of a single mother of three in Nevada who was paying $120 per week in child care copays before this program took effect and helped her pay her bills and support her family.
Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
Madam President, I rise today because we have a child care crisis in this country. Families can’t afford it, employers don’t have the funds to subsidize it, and providers can’t pay their workers. In my home state of Nevada, it can cost more to send your kids to child care than it does to send them to college! It’s outrageous.
One of the many consequences of this crisis is that some parents who can’t afford child care have to stay home with their kids instead of re-entering the workforce. Nearly 39% of women with children younger than 5 years old have quit their jobs in the last 3 years. Over 90% of those women willingly decided to leave their jobs and stop earning an income, not because they were laid off or had their hours cut back.
The lack of resources for child care in this country is hurting our children, our families, and our economy. We must expand access to child care now.
We took steps to lower child care costs for families when we passed the American Rescue Plan. That funding has made a difference for families across the country. In Nevada, that means families of four that make up to $70,000 a year are getting help covering their child care costs. It means all copays for child care programs have been waived. It means that thousands of families across my state have been able to breathe easier knowing they won’t have to choose between groceries and their kids’ tuition.
Christine McNally works with these families every day at her two child care centers in Northern Nevada. She told me about a single mom she works with who has three kids. Before the American Rescue Plan passed lowering child care costs, she was paying $120 per week in copays. Per week! Not having to cover the cost of those copays anymore has been huge for her and her family. It’s helped alleviate so much financial pressure – now she can pay her electric bills without worrying how she’s going to cover the cost of child care.
The problem is, this legislation expired this year. If far-right Republicans refuse to work with us to extend this program, it will be devastating to Christine’s families and to the thousands of others like them throughout Nevada when their costs skyrocket next year.
Parents who have no one else to look after their children will face impossible choices, and many will choose to leave the workforce so they can care for their kids themselves. Providers won’t be able to continue to pay their staff, forcing many to look for employment elsewhere. Child care programs across the country will shut down, and families will have to stay on longer waiting lists for even more time to access the remaining programs. We can’t let that happen.
Child care is critical for our families. We must pass the Child Care Stabilization Act now to protect it.