THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY AND THE VICE PRESIDENT ON AFTER-SCHOOL CARE
The Roosevelt Room
10:18 A.M. EST
MRS. CLINTON: Thank you and good morning. Please be seated. Welcome to the White House. It is a pleasure to have all of you join the President and the Vice President and Secretary Riley, Bill White of the Mott Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Bass. And I'm especially pleased to see in the audience so many people who care so much about education and child care.
This morning we come together to hear about the President's plans to strengthen education, to discuss his historic child care initiative, and particularly to talk about how he has made quality after-school programs a national priority.
I'd like to start by talking about the child care initiative itself, because it is the single largest investment in child care in our nation's history, and it will go a long way toward helping our nation's working parents find the care they can afford and trust. This initiative will make care more affordable and it will also double the number of children receiving subsidies and increased tax credits for child care. It will help local communities and it will promote early learning and healthy child development opportunities. It will ensure higher standards for child care by stepping up enforcement.
But we all know that high quality child care needs don't disappear when children start school. It's estimated that up to 5 million school age children spend time as latch-key kids, without adult supervision. That's why, as part of this initiative, the President is making a significant investment in after-school care.
This is so important for so many working families. We want more of America's children to say no to drugs and alcohol and crime, and yes to reading and soccer and computers. And with this expanded investment in after-school care, combined with public, private partnerships and communities, we will be able to give our children those opportunities.
This morning, the President will announce how one such partner, the C.S. Mott Foundation, is providing critical support to strengthen and improve after-school programs. This afternoon I will be visiting a model program in Harlem, at the Harriet Tubman School, to underscore once again how important these programs are for all of our children.
Now it is my great privilege to introduce someone who has been so committed to our children, and that is the Secretary of Education, Dick Riley. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the President and First Lady, I want to acknowledge the presence of Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. Thank you, Dianne, for your hard work in this area. (Applause.) And also Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut -- we appreciate your presence here, Chris. (Applause.) And I know that -- Senator Barbara Boxer I think is in back there.
And there are members of a lot of education groups and child care groups, community groups, parent-teacher groups, school boards association. I'm not going to try to acknowledge everyone who should, by rights, be singled out here, but thank you for your participation and presence and hard work over the years on these issues.
I want to thank Rand and Debra Bass for introducing me and for giving that wonderful statement. I know of Barcroft Elementary, and Tipper and I lived in Arlington for quite a long time.
I also want to express my deep appreciation to Bill White, President and CEO of the Mott Foundation. And I want to thank the Board of Directors and other representatives of the Mott Foundation, who are also present with us here today. Bill, it's a wonderful commitment that you're making, and it's going to make a huge difference in the lives of so many children and families across this country.
And, of course, Secretary Riley has offered such tremendous leadership and vision and steadfastness on all these topics. We're really grateful to you, Mr. Secretary.
We're here today, of course, to hear the President announce important new details of his commitment to education and his plan to give all of the children in this country the tools needed to succeed in the 21st century. But, first of all, I'd like to say something that everybody knows, these landmark investments would not have been possible without the dedication and hard work and achievement of our First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton. I want to acknowledge her leadership and her great advocacy for all of these programs. (Applause.)
For 25 years, she has worked to put children and family at the top of our national agenda. She deserves the admiration and gratitude of every parent in America, and she certainly has mine. And, in fact, the White House Conference on Early Childhood Development, and then the one on child care, both helped to set the stage for the national dialogue that we're now having.
And I thanked Bill White and his board of directors for this generous commitment, but the President will describe that in just a moment and you will see what an historic commitment it is. And the President will speak more broadly about his overall education agenda, because this morning's announcement should be seen in the context of how we prepare the people of our country, and especially children and families, for the challenges of the 21st century.
Before presenting the President, I want to say just a few words about an area that's of special importance to me -- it's been mentioned already -- after-school care. As Rand and Debra Bass know very well, when children start school it becomes especially hard for parents to balance the needs of home and work and raise strong families. That is why the President's and First Lady's commitment to child care is so significant. And that is why our commitment to after-school care is such a critical part of our child care plan.
The need for quality after-school care has often been raised at the annual family conferences that Tipper and I have in Nashville every year. We've had them for the last six years. And especially at last year's conference, which was on families and education, and parents involvement in their children's education, we learned how serious the challenge is and how needed these after-school programs are. There are 5 million children, as the First Lady said, who leave school before their parents get home.
This period of time between the school bell and the factory whistle is a most vulnerable time for children. These are the hours when children are more likely to engage in at-risk behavior and are more vulnerable to the dangers that still exist in too many neighborhoods and communities. That puts some parents in a gut-wrenching dilemma: Do they stay at home and forego the family income that they need, or do they stay on the job and worry that their children will be in danger while they're away?
Parents need help balancing those competing priorities. That is why the President announced that he will increase by an unprecedented 400 percent the 21st Century Community Learning Center grants that can be used to start, expand, and improve local after-school care. And I want to formally acknowledge Senator Barbara Boxer, who has worked her way through the media, through the crowd here. (Applause.)
Of course, this whole child care program and the education agenda and after-school care represent just some of the ways that President Clinton is investing in the future of our children and giving parents more of the tools they need to raise strong families. So now I am very pleased to introduce America's true education President and the greatest champion of working parents and working families that the United States of America has ever known -- President Bill Clinton. (Applause.)
END 10:37 A.M. EST