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Hirono, Murray, Introduce Bill to Increase Access to Affordable, High-Quality Child Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced legislation to expand access to affordable child care for Hawaii families.

“For many of Hawaii’s working parents, child care has become unaffordable —exceeding other household costs and expenses and eating into their hard-earned income,” said Senator Hirono. “This legislation represents a long-term investment in our keiki to ensure that every family has access to high-quality early learning and child care programs that are affordable.”

Most Hawaii families can expect to spend more than 11 percent of their household income on child care this year—exceeding the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ standard of affordable care.

“At a time when far too many working families are struggling, finding quality child care that doesn’t break the bank shouldn’t be another thing keeping parents up at night,” said Senator Murray, Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “As a former preschool teacher, I know what quality early learning and care can do for a child’s development, so I’m proud to introduce the Child Care for Working Families Act to address our child care crisis and support access to high-quality preschool so that all children are ready for kindergarten and beyond. This is not only the right to thing to for working families, but it’s a smart investment in our children, our future, and our economy.”

The Child Care for Working Families Act would:

  • Ensure that no families below 150 percent of state median income pay more than seven percent of their income on child care. Last year in Hawaii, this would have included families of four making less than $128,034.
  • Promote universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all three and four year olds.
  • Improve compensation and training opportunities for the child care workforce.

In addition to Senators Murray and Hirono, other cosponsors in the Senate include Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

As a nationally recognized leader on early childhood issues, Senator Hirono has continued to advocate for high-quality early childhood and child care programs. As Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor, she introduced the Pre-Plus program to provide for preschool facilities on public school campuses. As Hawaii’s U.S. Representative and Senator, she authored and continues to advocate for the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act, legislation that provided a structure for the Preschool Development Grant (PDG) program established by the Obama Administration and funded by Congress. Hawaii was awarded a 4-year PDG in December 2014.  More recently, a new PDG program was authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act signed into law in December 2015.