(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would allocate $200 million of federal money to fund benefits and training for professional child care providers.
"Too many child care workers today cannot even afford to stay in the profession," Clinton said at a news conference in Washington, D.C. "The average child care worker earns $18,820 a year, well below the poverty rate. We ask them to take care of our children for a salary that often makes it nearly impossible for them to support and care for their own children."
Clinton introduced the Quality Child Care for America Act, which she said would "create a $200 million fund for child care centers and home-based providers to improve quality as well as compensation for child care professionals." Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the same legislation the House.
"Let's provide the resources that we need to attract and keep good people in the field, to get licenses, to improve training, and to give our children the very best start," Clinton said, amending her famous slogan, "It takes a village to raise a child," by adding that "it certainly takes a village that has child care providers."
"They often do not have fully paid health benefits," DeLauro said of child care providers. "Not surprisingly, many of these workers do not have paid sick days."
She said the proposed legislation would create an "annual $200 million funding stream for workforce development, quality initiatives that child care provides. States can use the funds toward critical workforce needs, such as health insurance coverage, retirement benefits and paid sick days.
DeLauro called the proposal "a first important step to work within and strengthen the federal framework for child care assistance."
A bill number for the legislation was not available Wednesday, because it had not completed the introduction process. A spokeswoman for DeLauro did not provide Cybercast News Service with a copy of the proposal by press time Wednesday.
According to Clinton and DeLauro, the $200 million would be part of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which authorized $5 billion in 2006 to help low-income families obtain child care so that parents can work or go to school.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, which runs the Child Care and Development Fund, the 2006 appropriation included $170 million for "quality expansion" and $98 million to "improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers.""