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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 9, 1998
                       PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES 
                     AND GIVE PARENTS PEACE OF MIND

This weekend, millions of Americans will celebrate Mother's Day and take time to recognize the critically important role that mothers play in the lives of their children. To give our nation's mothers the peace of mind they deserve, President Clinton today announced new steps to help parents choose safe, appropriate child care and again urges Congress to take action on child care legislation this year.

The President Announces A New Justice Department Report to Help Protect Children in Child Care. The Justice Department report is designed to help protect children, the elderly and the disabled from abuse and neglect in care. Although the vast majority of child care providers are dedicated to the teaching and nurturing of children, one tragedy in child care is too many. Background checks are an important way to ensure that the people watching our children are fit for this responsibility. Guidelines for the Screening of Persons Working with Children, the Elderly and Individuals with Disabilities in Need of Support offers practical guidance for screening potential caregivers and makes recommendations for developing statewide screening and background check policies.

The new report underscores the need for the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact, which the President transmitted to Congress last fall, and has strong bipartisan support, and currently awaits congressional action. The Compact will facilitate effective background checks on child care providers by eliminating state law barriers to the sharing of criminal history information for non-criminal purposes.

The President Announces New HHS Efforts To Help Parents Choose Child Care. Studies confirm that consumer education is a key ingredient to child care quality. Today, HHS releases two documents to help parents get the information they need to choose child care that is right for their children:

New guide will help parents select high quality child care. The guide recommends four simple steps for parents in choosing child care: (1) interview the potential caregivers; (2) check references; (3) evaluate how the caregiver meets your child's needs; and (4) stay involved. The guide will be available to parents through the Internet.

New report highlights model consumer education efforts in the states and urges greater action. The new report, Reaching Parents with Child Care Consumer Education, will help states improve parental education. It highlights successful state approaches and makes recommendations to states and child care administrators on ways to provide information to parents on how to assess their child care needs, locate services, obtain subsidies for income-eligible families, evaluate quality, and choose the best, appropriate care for their children.

The President Urges Congress to Protect Child Support Collection. The President called on Congress to join him in opposing a provision in proposed bankruptcy reform legislation that may undermine the ability of single parents to collect child support and alimony. The Administration supports responsible bankruptcy reform, but under one bill in the House of Representatives, some parents who try to collect child support from former spouses who file for bankruptcy could find themselves in competition with large credit card companies. Since 1992, child support collection has increased by 68 percent, and the President is committed to safeguarding that important progress.

The President Calls for Congressional Action on Child Care. Millions of Americans, struggling to be both good parents and good workers, rely on child care and after-school programs each day. As part of his balanced budget request, the President called for significant new investments in 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. Today, the President renewed his call on Congress to put aside partisan differences and take action on child care this year.

                       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

Included in President Clinton's balanced budget request is 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 up to age 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.