Child Care Catch-22
December 6, 2005 - 1:13pm ET
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It's a trade-off parents of nearly all incomes struggle with: Does it make sense for me to work if I have to pay for someone to watch my children while I'm away? Parents on welfare—now called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)—are in a double bind . The going hourly rate for many jobs is barely more than the hourly rate for decent child care. In a stunning act of hypocrisy, Republicans who rail against low-income parents not working are going to increase the obstacles to work by cutting subsidized child care. The budget bill passed by the House would result in 330,000 fewer children in poor working families receiving child care assistance over the next five years, according the National Women's Law Center. The Senate will soon be faced with whether to maintain these cuts to child care enacted by their colleagues in the House. This week, NWLC is asking you to call your senator while he or she is home and urge them to do the right thing—oppose the child care cuts.
Yesterday's action alert from NWLC explains how the House and Senate budget bills relate and offers information on calling your senator and writing a letter to the editor:
...before Thanksgiving, the House-passed budget spending cuts reconciliation bill would result in 330,000 fewer children in poor working families receiving child care assistance over the next five years. The bill does this by tacking on the renewal of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) & Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) programs to a much larger bill that makes deep cuts to other supports for low- and moderate-income women and their families, including Medicaid, food stamps and child support enforcement. The TANF/CCDBG reauthorization provisions substantially increase work requirements but provide grossly inadequate child care funding. Now the House and Senate—which does not include TANF and CCDBG reauthorization as part of its reconciliation spending cuts bill—are preparing to work out the differences in their two bills.
Call your Senators’ district offices this week and urge them to ensure that the TANF/CCDBG reauthorization NOT be included in the final reconciliation bill. And ask them to oppose any final reconciliation bill that cuts health care, food stamps, or other vital services for families in your state. Your Senators are still out for the Thanksgiving recess this week, but will return to Washington, D.C. soon for the budget reconciliation negotiations.
In addition, please look for news or opinion stories in your local papers that relate to the federal budget spending cuts bill (or budget priorities more generally), and submit a letter to the editor that shares your concerns about the bill as a whole and specifically draws attention to child care cuts. Fax a copy of your letter to the editor to your Senators, especially if it gets published.
The House spending cuts reconciliation bill would increase work requirements for families receiving TANF (even for families with children under 6), but fails to provide enough funding to maintain even the current level of child care services and keep pace with inflation. These and other extremely punitive provisions for low-income families amount to a back door attempt renew the TANF and CCDBG programs without a full debate in the Senate.
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