- US parents are struggling to find and afford childcare.
- A group of House Democrats just established the “Dads Caucus” to push for reforms.
- They want to expand parental leave, the child tax credit, and childcare funding to help working families.
America has a childcare problem. A group of Democratic congressmen say they want to push for a better way forward.
Last Thursday, House Democrats launched the Congressional Dads Caucus, a group that says it will advocate for legislation that includes guaranteed paid parental leave, the expansion of the child tax credit, and universal childcare.
The announcement was made at a press conference by California Rep. Jimmy Gomez, who drew attention earlier this month for bringing his four-month-old son to the House floor during the marathon days-long sequence of votes for speaker of the House.
“Dads need to do our part advancing policies that will make a difference in the lives of so many working families across the country,” Gomez told NBC News.
Gomez was joined at the press conference by Reps. Andy Kim of New Jersey, Dan Goldman of New York, and Rashida Talib of Michigan. In 2019, Talib founded the Congressional Mamas’ Caucus, a group that has called for family-first and maternal health policies.
Members say there are plenty of problems to tackle. The US is the only industrialized country that doesn’t require employers to offer paid parental leave, and only 25% of workers have access to it, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
The expanded child tax credit passed in the American Rescue Plan, which offered monthly payments to parents between March and December of 2021, helped reduce the child poverty rate to historic lows. But after the expanded credit ended, 3.7 million children fell back into poverty, according to a Columbia University analysis.
In 2018, the Center for American Progress found that over half of Americans lived in an area where childcare was sparse, and even when families do find childcare, it’s unaffordable almost everywhere in the US. National childcare costs average over $9,000 annually, and could shoot even higher over the next year as federal funds dry up.
“We’re determined to achieve real solutions by fighting for our national paid family and medical leave program, affordable high-quality child care, and the expanded Child Tax Credit, which cut child poverty in this country by 40 to 60 percent during the nine months that it was in existence,” Gomez said.
As of last Thursday, the caucus had grown to about 15 members — all Democrats.
“I think hopefully at some point it can become bipartisan,” Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro told The Washington Post. “When you start a caucus, you kind of have to start from a shared consensus around policy and what you’re advocating for, and that’s been tough with Republicans in the last few years in particular with these issues.”
Given Republicans have control of the House, it will likely take a certain amount of bipartisanship for any of the caucus’s initiatives to be implemented on a federal level.