Rising child care costs at the heart of new Hirono proposal
By some estimates, child care can cost more than college on an annual basis. In Hawaii, it’s an average of more than $13,000.
WASHINGTON - By some estimates, child care can cost more than college on an annual basis. In Pennsylvania, it’s an average of more than $11,500.
“So many parents are telling us they are choosing low-quality care because the price is low,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said. “That’s a bad result for that family.”
Casey, a Democrat, has introduced legislation that would enhance the standard child and dependent care tax credit. Families making under $120,000 a year would see their credit jump from $1,000 to $3,000-$6,000 depending on a family’s income.
In places like Hawaii, where the cost of living is among the highest in the united states, average child care costs can run a family more than $13,000 according to Child Care Aware of America. The cost increased rapidly in Hawaii, up 24 percent from 2007 to 2015, according to the Aloha United Way.
“(The bill) enables families who are already working really hard to be able to go to work and not have such a huge chunk of their incomes go to child care,” said U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), a co-sponsor of Casey’s legislation.
That chunk has only increased over the years. Child Care Aware of America estimates nearly one-in-five families will spend more than a quarter of their income on child care costs. The federal government recommends that number should be just seven percent.
“This bill will make (the tax credit) fully refundable so that families can take advantage of it and actually get dollars in their pocket,” Casey said.
The plan has support from nearly two-dozen Senate Democrats, including several 2020 presidential candidates. So far, no Republicans have joined them. However, President Trump has signaled support for these types of tax credits in the past.
The new proposal, formally known as the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit Enhancement Act,doubles down on similar plan the senators launched in February. That plan would provide more funding for child care development block grant and head start programs.
“With wages being stagnant and so many families in Hawaii having to already work more than one job, it’s a huge expense,” Hirono said.