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Act for Better Child Care
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Tell it to Washington
"The Act for Better Child Care"
The Senate has passed a comprehensive bill (63-37) that is designed to help low-income families. obtain safe, affordable child care. The approved bill, Senate Bill 5, The Act for Better Child Care, popularly called the ABC bill, was sponsored by Senators Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). Democratic senators Daniel K. Inouye and Spark M. Matsunaga voted for the bill.
The measure, which the League supports, will provide $1.75 billion in federal grants in fiscal year 1990 to the states to. help parents pay for child care, increase the availability of day care centers, and encourage states to set health and safety standards.
About $1.23 billion, or 70 percent of the ABC funds will be used by states to help low-income families pay for child care for children 13 and younger by direct payment vouchers or by reduced fees at subsidized child care facilities.
The states will be required to enact their own standards for health and safety of children in child care centers, family day care homes and group care homes. The standards must be established in three years. The bill establishes a National Committee on Mondel Standards and an incentive fund to provide grants to states that comply their standards to the model standards. Compliance is voluntary.
Twenty-two percent of ABC funds also will be available for resource and referral programs, state monitoring, licensing and inspection efforts, health and safety training for child care workers, improvements in child care salaries., and risk liability pools. The bill, also, will help to increase the availability of safe child care through grants and loans to establish or expand child care programs, by recruiting and training family day care providers, by helping set up after-school services and programs for "sick and homeless children, and help businesses with child care programs.
The bill allows federal funds to be used for nonsectarian, religious-based child care, provided it does not violate the constitutional separation of church and state.
Head Start Authorization
The bill provides-$317 million more in fiscal year 1990 for the Head Start program, for a total of $1.55 billion.
Tax Credits The ABC bill will:
- Supplement the earned income tax credit for low-income families with young children: S.5 will provide low-income families. with children younger than 4 with additional income supplement. The supplement will go up to $750 a year for those families earning up to $13,000.
- Make the dependent tax credit refundable: Low-income families with little or no federal income tax liability can offset a portion of their own money for child care expenses.
- Provide a refundable tax credit for health insurance expenses:
The bill will provide up to $500 to low and moderate-income families to offset a portion of their own money for family health insurance expenses.
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