WASHINGTON, D.C. – During today’s House Ways and Means Committee consideration of H.R. 5861, the Jobs and Opportunity with Benefits and Services for Success (JOBS) Act, which includes the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), a member of the committee, introduced an amendment to encourage states to spend more on child care.
The amendment was defeated on party lines by a vote of 22 to 14. H.R. 5861 would put a 50% cap on the amount of funds that can be transferred from a state’s TANF grant to the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
Rep. Chu’s amendment eliminated that cap to encourage states to use TANF dollars to help parents successfully enter the workforce by ensuring their children have access to quality child care. The amendment also added child care as a “core purpose” meaning states would have to spend at least 25% of their TANF grant on activities to help families become workforce ready. Rep. Chu released the following statement:
“TANF is an important federal program that is successful at helping vulnerable families who desperately need assistance. But I’m deeply troubled that this bill, which was written solely along partisan lines, does not actually help TANF to meet its goals. That is what my amendment is intended to address. Encouraging parents to go to work is not the same as enabling them to go to work.
“That requires ensuring affordable child care. But in my own state of California, child care can cost families an average of $13,000 a year, which is a difficult cost for even middle-income families to bear, let alone those struggling with poverty. This is in part why fewer than 15% of income eligible children in California have access to child care.
By eliminating the 50% cap on transferring TANF funds to the Child Care and Development Block Grant and including child care as a ‘core purpose’, states would be given the option to spend more on an investment we know is critical in helping parents maintain steady employment.
“If we are serious about helping families become work ready, then we must put more pressure on states to invest TANF dollars in quality child care spending instead of diverting funds to other programs.”
Additional materials on the markup of H.R. 5861 can be found here.