CHILD CARE INITIATIVE
For six years, the President has sought to help working families balance the demands of work and family. In this budget, he proposes a significant new investment in strengthening child care -- making it better, safer, and more affordable for working families. The budget includes the following:
· Expanding the Child Care Block Grant to Create Better, Safer and More Affordable Child Care:
Providing Child Care Subsidies to a Half Million Additional Children: The President proposes to expand the Child Care and Development Block Grant to help working families struggling to afford child care. This block grant is the primary federal subsidy program to pay for child care, enabling low-income parents to work. Funds are distributed by formula to the states to operate direct child care subsidy programs, as well as to improve the quality and availability of care. Today, however, millions of families who are eligible for assistance with their child care costs do not receive any help. In FY 1997, states provided child care assistance to only 1.25 million of the 10 million low-income children eligible for assistance. The President's budget significantly increases investment in the child care block grant by increasing funding for child care subsidies by $1.2 billion to provide child care subsidies for 500,000 more families in 2000.
Promoting Early Learning: The President proposes to increase the block grant to provide challenge grants to communities (distributed by states) to improve early learning and the quality and safety of child care for children ages zero to five. Research shows that children's experiences in the earliest years are critical to their development and ability to reach school ready to learn. The budget provides $600 million to States to provide challenge grants to communities to help get children ready to learn.
Improving Child Care Quality: Last year, Congress fully funded the President's request to increase investment in improving child care by providing States with additional resources for quality enhancement efforts such as performing inspections of child care facilities, providing resource and referral services for parents, assisting providers with training and scholarships, and creating networks for family day care providers. The President's FY 2000 budget provides $173 million for this initiative.
· Giving Greater Tax Relief for Child Care to Three Million Working Families: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides tax relief to taxpayers who pay for the care of a child under 13 or a disabled dependent or spouse in order to work. The credit is equal to a percentage of the taxpayer's employment-related expenditures for child or dependent care, with the amount of the credit depending on the taxpayer's income. The budget proposes to increase the credit for families earning under $60,000, providing an additional average tax cut of $345 for these families and eliminating income tax liability for almost all families with incomes below 200% of poverty ($35,000 for a family of four) that claim the maximum allowable child care expenses. The President's budget includes $5 billion over five years to expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for nearly 3.3 million working families paying for child care.
· Providing Tax Relief to Parents Who Stay at Home: The President proposes an initiative to enable parents who stay at home with children under the age of one to take advantage of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by claiming assumed child care expenses of $500. The President's budget provides an average tax credit of $178, at a cost of $1.3 billion over five years, which will benefit 1.7 million parents.
· Creating New Child Care Tax Incentives for Businesses: The President proposes to create a new tax credit for businesses that provide child care services for their employees, by building or expanding child care facilities, operating existing facilities, training child care workers, or providing child care resources and referral services. The credit covers 25% of qualified costs, but may not exceed $150,000 per year. The President's budget includes approximately $500 million over five years for these tax credits.
· Serving over a Million Children through After-School: The President proposes to triple funding for the 21st Century Learning Center Program, which supports the creation and expansion of after-school and summer school programs throughout the country. The program increases the supply of after-school care in a cost-effective manner, primarily by funding programs that use public school facilities and existing resources. In awarding these new funds, the Education Department will give priority to school districts that are ending social promotion by requiring that students meet academic standards in order to move to the next grade. The President's budget includes $600 million in FY 2000 to help roughly 1.1 million children each year participate in after-school and summer school programs.
· Increasing Head Start: Head Start, one of the President's highest priorities, is America's premier early childhood development program. It supports working families by helping parents get involved in their children's educational lives and by providing services to the entire community. The budget provides $5.267 billion, a $607 million increase over 1999 levels for Head Start. This increase would enable the program to serve 42,000 additional children in 2000 and will keep the program on track to reach the President's goal of serving 1 million children by 2002.
· College Campus-Based Child Care: These budget proposes $5 million to establish and support child care services on college campuses. These new resources will help increase low-income parents' access to higher education.