On Tuesday Senators Shaheen, Boxer, Murray, and Gillibrand introduced the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act—legislation that would dramatically reform government subsidies for child care.
Child-care costs are a major disincentive to work. Low-income workers face a host of penalties on their wages, ranging from payroll taxes to the phase-out of benefits like food stamps and Medicaid. But for many workers, paying for child care is the highest of all these costs. While families with children under the age of fifteen spent an average of 7.0 percent of their income on child-care expenses in 2011, the lowest-income households with child-care expenses—those with monthly incomes of $1,500 or less—spent a remarkable 39.6 percent of their income on child–care expenditures.