THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. And good morning to everyone.
This is a critical issue for almost every family in our country — and the issue, of course, being the need for affordable childcare. And, frankly, in too many places in our country, it’s just too expensive.
In April, President Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to find ways to improve access to care and support caregivers, because, of course, we care not only about the parents and families that require and need this kind of support, we also care about the workers who are providing that support.
And so, the President’s directive included the importance of lowering costs for families participating in the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program. This grant program, also known as CCDBG, benefits more than 900,000 working families and one and a half million children across our nation. However, many of these families still pay hundreds of dollars every month out of pocket for care.
Today, we are offering a solution for these families which caps co-pays at no more than 7 percent of their income. And you’ll recall that the President and I have been talking about that 7 percent for two and a half years and the importance of bringing down the cost of childcare for working families in America.
And, for example, what this would mean is: Let’s take a family in Montana making $46,000 a year. They could save about $80 every month, or over — almost over $1,000 a year. That money could go to gas and groceries or to fix a leak in their roof.
For some of the lowest-income families, we have encouraged the states to eliminate co-pays entirely. The President and I also encourage states to make the application process easier for parents to apply and to receive these benefits.
And, for example, one of the things that we need to make easier is: In the 21st century, parents should be able to apply for this help online. And so that is one of the things that we are encouraging, is that that be an option — which is currently not an option in many states, sadly, even just for online applications.
And we have also made sure that childcare providers are paid faster and more fairly. Overall, if states participate in this initiative, over 350,000 families could save money on childcare payments, and more than 200,000 providers will benefit from these changes as well.
As we know, for millions of parents, childcare makes it possible to go to work and to — to be productive during the course of their day. Childcare helps these Americans stay in the workforce, go to job training, or secure a paid job and earn money for college or retirement. Childcare helps them determine their own future and live with dignity.
We also know that access to high-quality childcare sets children up for a lifetime of success. There is a correlation between access to high-quality childcare and the lifetime success of an individual. They are more likely to go on and earn a degree and get a high-paying job.
Unfortunately, childcare, again, remains too expensive for too many families in our nation. In some places, childcare can cost almost $20,000 per child per year. Low-income families often spend one third — one third of their yearly income on childcare, more than they spend on their rent or mortgage. No family should have to choose between high quality care for their child or to give up their career or put food on the table.
I’ve spent my entire career fighting for the health, safety, and wellbeing of families in America. And as District Attorney of San Francisco, I focused on crimes against women and children. As Attorney General of California, I established the Bureau of Children’s Justice within the California Department of Justice. And as a United States senator, I led a bill to align school hours with work hours, to expand after-school and summer programs, and I fought to guarantee paid leave for families, in particular parents and caregivers.
I strongly believe that when we lift up the status and the economic status of families, we lift up the economic status of communities. Our entire economy and our entire nation benefits as a result.
Since day one, President Biden and I have worked to strengthen and expand access to affordable, high-quality childcare. Shortly after we took office, 10 million children benefited when we helped over 200,000 childcare providers stay open or reopen. And we have required semiconductor manufacturers receiving funding through the CHIPS bill to provide affordable childcare to their workers.
As we think about new industries, as we create new industries and strengthen our economy, the President and I are committed to ensuring that the workers who will fuel that growth are supported in every way, including their need for affordable childcare. And we will continue to bring down the costs.
And the President’s budget, in addition, would cap childcare costs for a typical family at $10 per day — $10 per day — and support free, high-quality preschool for all four-year-olds.
And I’ll close with this. This fight is personal for me. My mother had two goals in her life: to raise her two daughters and end breast cancer. My mother was a breast cancer researcher, and she would work long days and often on weekends.
And when she did, my sister and I would walk two doors down to the home of Mrs. Regina Shelton. Ms. Shelton ran a childcare center, and she became a second mother to my sister and me. My mother often said that but for Mrs. Shelton she would never have been able to do the work that she did. She would have never been able to contribute as she did to the fight to end breast cancer.
Those are the stakes of this work: bringing childcare to all families who need it. And that is why we must make sure all families can access the life-changing benefits of childcare.
Thank you all. And I’m now going to turn it over to Neera Tanden, Domestic Policy Advisor to the President and a leader on childcare and so many other critical issues facing our nation’s families.