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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 10, 1998
                      President Clinton Calls for
             Child Care That Strengthens America's Families

                             March 10, 1998

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

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 issued today instructs all executive agencies to: (1) reach 100 percent national accreditation of federally-sponsored child care by the year 2000 (accreditation is done by nonprofit, non-governmental professional organizations to validate safety and quality; criteria include developmental programming, staff training, appropriate staff-to-child ratios, as well as health, safety and facility standards); (2) ensure proper background checks on child care workers in federally-sponsored child care; (3) explore public-private partnerships to improve child care quality and affordability; and (4) ensure that all federal workers have full information on child care benefits and options available to them. The executive branch of the federal government operates 1,024 child care centers -- 788 by the military, 109 by the General Services Administration, and 127 by other federal departments -- and the military sponsors nearly 10,000 professional family child care providers. In total, about 215,000 children are in federally-sponsored child care.

New Report Points to Innovation But Limited Resources In the States. The Child Care and Development Block Grant: Report of State Plans 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:

States need more resources to help working families afford child care. The welfare law allows states to use the Child Care and Development Block Grant to provide child care subsidies to lower-income working families -- defined as families with less than 85 percent of state median income. This new report shows that because of resource contraints, some states set eligibility levels far below what is allowed by federal law. For example, in 10 states, a family of three with as little as $20,000 of income is not eligible for any help with child care costs. In as many as 37 states, a family of three with $28,000 of income is not eligible for a child care subsidy. Further, most states have insufficient funds even to subsidize all families meeting their eligibility requirements.

States have innovative strategies to improve child care quality, such as scholarships and basic training for child care providers, tax credits for businesses that offer child care services, initiatives to link the child care and health care communities, support for resource and referral services, and initiatives to expand school-age care.

The President's Child Care Initiative Addresses the Need for More Resources And Builds on Innovation in the States. The President's balanced budget calls for 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.

Connecticut is Improving Child Care Quality. Connecticut recently passed bipartisan School Readiness Legislation to improve child care quality and promote early learning.

                       PRESIDENT CLINTON'S PROPOSAL:

"Not a single American family should ever have to choose between

     the job they need and the child they love."
                                          President Bill Clinton
                                          State of the Union Address, 
                                          January 27, 1998

President Clinton's balanced budget includes an historic initiative to improve child care for America's working families. The initiative proposes over $20 billion over five years for child care -- to help working families pay for child care, build a good supply of after-school programs, improve the safety and quality of care, 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 new initiative:

Makes child care more affordable for working families. To help working families struggling to meet the costs of child care, 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.

Increases access to and promotes early learning and healthy child development. To improve early learning, 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.

Improves the safety and quality of child care. To help ensure safe, quality 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.

Expands access to safe after-school care. To help create safe, positive learning environments for American school-age children who lack adult supervision during a typical week, 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.