Call for Action on Legislation to Aid Middle-Class, Working Families

NEW HAVEN, CT—Connecticut Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Chris Murphy today discussed the importance of providing access to affordable child care to middle-class and working families to help ease the financial pressures they face and ensure they can adequately meet both work and family demands. The two toured Creating Kids Child Care Center in New Haven, where they spoke with teachers and parents. They also discussed a report produced by Murphy’s office that examined the considerable burden child care can place on families across Connecticut (click here for the report). 

“We need to make sure our political, social, and economic policies reflect the working world of the 21st century and that they are meeting the real needs of today’s middle and working class families,” DeLauro said.  “That includes helping families gain access to quality, affordable child care.  The accounts that allow families to set aside up to $5,000, tax free, to help pay for child care costs are extraordinarily helpful, but this $5,000 cap does not keep pace with rising costs.  Too many American families are reeling from the high costs of child care, which is virtually a necessity to having a job in this 21st century economy.  That is why Chris has introduced the Child Care Flex Spending Act and I am proud to co-sponsor it.”

“This report confirms that child care expenses are breaking the bank for too many families,” said Murphy. “Quality child care in Connecticut costs money, and middle class family budgets are already stretched thin. Families shouldn't be forced to go bankrupt in order to care for their kids, and one of the best ways the government can help is to double the amount of pre-tax money families can put into flexible savings accounts.”

Since 1981, Congress has allowed employers to provide flexible spending accounts to their employees. These accounts give employees the option of setting aside money tax-free to pay for their dependent care needs. In 1986, these accounts were capped at $5,000 but not indexed to inflation, leaving middle class families struggling with ever-higher child care costs.

The Child Care Flex Spending Act would allow families making less than $200,000 to set aside up to $10,000 per year to help pay for child care costs, and would be adjusted for inflation over time.   This would be a considerable help to families across the state.  According to the report, the average cost of full-time child care in Connecticut is $11,377, which is nearly 17 percent of the state’s median household income. This varies by city, from a high of over $15,000 in Stamford to over $7,800 in New London. New Haven comes close to the Connecticut average at $11,281 per year for full-time child care.