Alexander Introduces Child Care Legislation - Bill Proposes Four Key Changes To Federal Child Care Grant Program

Posted on March 3, 2005

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Education and Early Childhood Development Subcommittee, has introduced the Caring for Children Act of 2005. The bill re-authorizes the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, which provides funding to states for child care certificates. "Child care is important to Tennesseans and families across the country," said Alexander. "In Tennessee, nearly 24,500 families have children enrolled in some form of subsidized child care, and nearly 47,000 children were receiving subsidized child care at the beginning of 2005. "Parents often report that their child care is poor to mediocre, so it is critical that we improve the quality of care for children. A significant element of this program is choice. Parents can use their certificates to choose the type of care that best fits their needs." The Caring for Children Act of 2005 proposes four key changes to the CCDBG program: · It increases the "quality set-aside" from 4 percent to 6 percent. Quality set-asides are used to improve the overall quality of care through training and development of child care workers; · It puts more money directly in the hands of parents instead of state bureaucracies by requiring the states to use 70 percent of funds for direct services; · It emphasizes the importance of school preparedness and early childhood development by adding as additional goals for children in care: pre-reading, prenumeracy, and math and language skills; · And it establishes a temporary small business competitive grant program to encourage small businesses to work together to provide childcare services for employees. In 1987, Alexander co-founded Bright Horizons Family Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ), which has become the nation's largest provider of worksite day care. In the Senate, along with chairing the Subcommittee on Education and Early Childhood Development, Alexander is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.