Clinton Child-Care Conference Questions Employer Responsibility

Article excerpt

FIRST LADY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON AND PRESIDENT Bill Clinton held a one-day conference at the White House on October 23 that addressed child care in America. The White House Conference focused on three issues: How to increase access to child care, how to make it more affordable and how to guarantee the quality of child care, so children will be safe. Clinton has declared child care "the next great frontier" in his effort to help working families.

"Finding reliable, safe day care for children is a `silent crisis' in the United States and more must be done to improve the services of child-care providers," said the first lady. She emphasized the problem is particularly acute for working families. "Many of our poorer working families making less than $25,000 a year are spending 20 percent to 25 percent of their income on child care, and as you go up the income scale, you spend less," she said.

Several national studies have documented that most purchased child care is mediocre or poor quality. Experts say the problem is lack of caregiver training and low wages, which lead to high turnover.

The Clintons suggested several remedies, including public-private partnerships, efforts by businesses to help make child care more available to their workers, and the formation of a group of business leaders to spur private investment in child care.

To make the idea of offering child care more attractive to employers, the Clinton administration may consider increasing federal funding to states to help low-income parents pay for care and creating a tax benefit to encourage businesses to help provide care. …