White House: Child Care Needs Unmet
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 23) -- The quality of and access to child care is under the microscope at a White House conference today. "One-size-fits-all child care does not fit America's families," said first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is spearheading the event.
"We do not work the same hours," Mrs. Clinton said. "We do not have the same economic or other kinds of pressures that we are dealing with. We have to provide more options and we have to empower parents with good information to enable them to become good consumers."
The goal for the Conference on Child Care, attended by over 100 experts in the field, is to initiate discussions on child care and make policy recommendations.
President Bill Clinton told the conference that he is working on a sweeping initiative, to be unveiled at the State of the Union address in January, which he said would improve accessibility to child care and help American parents in their "most sacred duties, keeping the American dream alive for them and for their children.
"People in this country have to be able to succeed at work and at home in raising their children," he said. "And if we put people in the position of having to choose one over the other our country is going to be profoundly weakened," the president warned.
Clinton also proposed a series of recommendations that he hopes will expand the quantity and improve the quality of child care in the U.S.
A working group, headed up by Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, will be formed to look at what can be done to get more businesses to provide child care or help their workers obtain affordable care. The group could look at tax and other incentives to encourage businesses to work toward that goal.
The president also plans to propose to Congress legislation creating scholarships for students who will work in child care when they graduate. He pledged to push lawmakers to make it easier to do background checks on child-care providers and drop some of the barriers that keep states from sharing criminal records.
The expanded use of volunteers and community-service workers to provide additional after-school child care through community-based organizations is also key, the president said.
Approximately 75 percent of American families use child care, with a majority of them saying they are not happy with their options, according to Parenting magazine.
Day-care workers are generally highly educated but paid poorly, with an average salary of just over $12,000. A third of day-care workers leave their job every year.
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Thursday Oct. 23, 1997
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