White House to host childcare, family leave summit with Ivanka Trump
Speaking at the White House, the president said families are struggling to pay for care and advocated the expansion of in-home and faith-based programs for children.Updated: Dec 13, 2019 07:11 IST
President Donald Trump on Thursday called for expanded access to childcare and family leave -- seeking to appeal to women voters by focusing on issues that Democratic challengers are emphasizing in their campaigns.
Speaking at the White House, the president said families are struggling to pay for care and advocated the expansion of in-home and faith-based programs for children.
“We want to expand childcare options and reduce unnecessary regulations so that parents can choose the best care for their children,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments came at a White House meeting on childcare and family leave, part of a push that administration officials say could help move forward legislation improving access to assistance for working parents.
Childcare and family leave have become a focus for Democrats running in 2020.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey has proposed legislation that would increase eligibility for the childcare block-grant subsidy and provide free childcare to some student parents. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has called for universal childcare for all children under 5, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has proposed three months of paid family leave.
House Democrats said this week that they had struck a deal with the White House that provides 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers in exchange for establishing the president’s proposed space force as a new branch of the government in the defense authorization bill.
White House domestic policy adviser Joe Grogan called the possible new benefit for federal workers an “important first step” toward the administration’s priority of providing paid family leave for all Americans.
White House officials, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, said they wanted the White House meeting -- which featured a presentation by Trump’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump -- to spark a bipartisan effort to address childcare.
The administration is also asking lawmakers to reauthorize and overhaul a block-grant program that provides childcare subsidies to low-income working families.
Last year, lawmakers increased the amount of childcare funds distributed to states through the program by $2.4 billion to $5.6 billion overall. That was part of a $1.3 trillion spending deal struck by congressional negotiators. But the White House argues the program could benefit more families if lawmakers removed “overly stringent regulations” on facilities and staff that the administration says drive up childcare costs.
As part of the White House effort, the Council of Economic Advisers completed a report detailing the impact of childcare costs on the economy. The report found that while women with young children are about twice as likely to participate in the labor force as they were 50 years ago, some 3.8 million parents with children under the age of 6 are currently outside the labor force.
The report argues that expanding childcare options -- particularly by removing some regulations -- could meaningfully increase the number of Americans who work rather than stay home out of concern over childcare costs.