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RELEASE: Roughly 10 Million Children Under the Age of 6 Would Be Eligible for Free or Reduced-Cost Care Under the Child Care for Working Families Act

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new analysis that includes estimates for the number of children and eligible families served under the Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA) sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). The analysis is particularly timely given the release of President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan proposal, which adopts the CCWFA framework to help families access and afford child care and invest in the early educator workforce.

The analysis finds that more than 76 percent of working families, including nearly 10 million children under the age of 6, would be eligible for free or reduced-cost child care under the bill—with costs capped on a sliding scale between 0 and 7 percent of household income. This represents a significant increase in the number of children served when compared with the 1.9 million children ages 0 to 12 who currently receive subsidized care through the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the largest source of funding for child care in the United States.

Low- and middle-income families spend, on average, between 14 and 35 percent of their household income on child care, despite the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services having set a 7 percent benchmark for assessing what is affordable for families. Today’s analysis finds that more than 2 in 3 eligible-families would have their costs capped at less than 4 percent of household income, with more than half of eligible children being covered for free.

“For decades, America’s failure to prioritize child care has cost our economy $57 billion a year, crushed families’ finances, and diminished the critical work of early educators,” said Rasheed Malik, senior policy analyst for Early Childhood Policy at CAP. “By capping or eliminating their costs and investing in the quality of care, this analysis shows that the Child Care for Working Families Act would make transformative change for millions of families and help level the playing field for nearly 10 million children from low- and middle-income households,”

“Too often, I hear from working moms and parents across Washington state who have had to quit their jobs because they can’t find or afford child care—and for women of color and women from families with low-incomes, this challenge can be even more difficult,” said Sen. Patty Murray. “That not only makes it incredibly hard for women to provide for their families, or grow their careers, but it hurts our economy too. The Child Care for Working Families Act would finally address this crisis by creating a child care infrastructure that ensures working families can get the affordable, quality child care they need and child care educators are paid what they deserve. We need to solve our child care crisis, and I’m looking forward to getting this bill across the finish line.”

“As this analysis demonstrates, the Child Care for Working Families Act is a bold proposal to reduce the cost of child care for families, increase wages for child care workers, and expand the availability of quality child care and preschool options,” said Chairman Bobby Scott. “The urgent need to overhaul our child care system is only growing. Children, parents, and our economy cannot continue to bear the cost of our broken child care system. The child care investments in the American Families Plan, which are modeled off of the Child Care for Working Families Act, would help deliver a long-term solution that provides children access to quality early learning opportunities, gives parents the freedom to pursue rewarding careers, and boosts the economy by getting workers back into the workforce.”

Please click here to read “Growing the Economy Through Affordable Child Care” by Rasheed Malik.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202-741-6292.