THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is releasing an important report showing that in 1999, States were able to provide child care assistance to only 12 percent of all federally eligible low-income working families. Also today, the Children's Defense Fund is releasing a report showing that the cost of child care is the greatest barrier low-income families face in finding quality care for their children. These new findings demonstrate that too many working families are still struggling with the high cost of child care, and we must ensure America's families have access to affordable, quality child care so they can balance their responsibilities both at work and at home. Under my Administration, federal funding for child care has more than doubled, and the 1996 welfare reform law increased child care funding by $4 billion to provide child care assistance to families moving from welfare to work and to other low-income families, but we can do more.
Two months ago, we reached a bipartisan agreement with Congress to provide an $817 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, bringing funding to $2 billion. In 2001, this increase would enable the program to provide child care subsidies for nearly 200,000 more children. With these new resources, combined with the child care funds provided as part of welfare reform, the program could serve more than 2.1 million children in 2001, an increase of nearly 1 million since 1997. We are still meeting only a fraction of the need, but this is a critical step forward. I urge Congress to complete the work it has left undone for more than two months, and heed the message of these reports by increasing funding for affordable, quality child care. America's working families should not have to wait any longer.