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U.S. Senators Shaheen, King Introduce Legislation to Make Child Care More Affordable for Working Families, Support Workforce

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME) introduced the Right Start Child Care and Education Act. This bill would work to make child care more affordable and accessible for working families, including many Granite Staters who need child care options, by reforming the federal tax code. It also creates a new tax credit for child care professionals with college degrees, helping strengthen the child care workforce.

“I've visited child care centers across New Hampshire, and the feedback I’ve heard is the same in all corners of the state: child care is vital to our workforce, families and the overall economic success of our communities,” said Senator Shaheen. “The Right Start Child Care and Education Act would make important reforms to our tax code to promote and increase access to high-quality child care as well as support early education professionals, ensuring affordable and high quality child care options are available for families everywhere.”

“Affordable and accessible child care is one of the most pressing needs for working families in Maine and across the nation,” said Senator King. “The Right Start Child Care and Education Act would increase the childcare workforce, incentivize businesses to provide affordable child care for their employees, and increase the amount of money families can save, tax-free, to pay for child care. When families have access to care, they are able to succeed both at home and in their professional careers. Child care is more than a household priority; child care means business!”

Specifically, the Right Start Child Care and Education Act, would:

  • Expand the employer-provided child care credit, including an additional expansion available to small businesses;
  • Expand dependent care flexible spending accounts; and
  • Create a new tax credit for child care professionals with relevant educational degrees.

Additional cosponsors of the legislation are U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Full bill text is available here.

Senators Shaheen and King are both cosponsors of the recently-introduced Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit Enhancement Act, which would permanently expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which helps households offset their child care costs.

Senator Shaheen has been a leader in advocating for more accessible and affordable child care. Recently, Shaheen took to the Senate floor urging Congress to pass President Biden’s request for $16 billion to support child care stabilization grants in the domestic supplemental funding request. In 2021, Senator Shaheen led the effort to deliver $77 million in child care relief funding to the State of New Hampshire through the American Rescue Plan. Since then, she has worked to hold the State accountable for delays in distributing some of those federal funds and helped deliver grants throughout the state, especially in communities that lack access to child care facilities.

Shaheen helped introduce the Child Care Stabilization Act to provide additional federal child care stabilization funding—which was provided in the American Rescue Plan—and ensure that child care providers can keep their doors open and continue serving children and families in every part of the country. Shaheen joined Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) to introduce the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would provide affordable child care for all working families, expand access to preschool programs and increase wages for early childhood workers. She also joined U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) in reintroducing the Childcare Workforce and Facilities Act to address the national shortage of affordable, quality child care, especially in rural communities. In the government funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2023, Senator Shaheen worked to include a $1.86 billion increase to $8.02 billion for Childcare and Development Block Grants to states, as well as a $960 million increase to Head Start, funding the program at nearly $12 billion for FY 2023. The law additionally includes an increase of $25 million to $315 million for Preschool Development Grants.