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October 23, 1997

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Child Care Conference

The President and First Lady Host the First-Ever White House Conference on Child Care

[T]he American dream has represented a compact that those who work hard and play by the rules should be able to build better lives for themselves and for their children. In this time, and even more into the future, child care that is too expensive, unsafe or unavailable will be a very stubborn obstacle to realizing that dream. So let us commit ourselves to clearing the obstacle, to helping parents fulfill their most sacred duty, to keeping the American Dream alive for them and, most important, for their children."

President Clinton,
October 23, 1997

Today, the President and First Lady are hosting the first-ever White House Conference on Child Care. The day-long conference will address the need that America's parents have for safe, affordable child care for their children. Millions of Americans, struggling to be both good parents and good workers, rely on child care and after-school programs to care for their children for part of each day. Exploring the roles of both the public and private sectors, the Conference is intended to begin a dialogue on three of the most pressing child care issues -- availability, affordability, and assuring safety and quality.


Today the President announced his intention to develop a child care initiative as a part of his next budget proposal. As he said, "[O]ur administration will develop a plan to be unveiled at the next State of the Union to improve access and affordability, and to help assure the safety of child care in America." In addition, the President is:

  • Calling on Congress to establish a National Child Care Provider Scholarship Fund that will provide more than $300 million in scholarships over five years to up to a quarter of a million child care providers (50,000 annually). Under this scholarship, child care providers who complete their course work will receive increased compensation or a bonus.
  • Transmitting the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact to Congress, which will, once enacted and ratified by states, facilitate effective background checks on child care providers by eliminating state law barriers to the sharing of criminal history information for purposes other than ongoing criminal investigations (like background checks on providers).
  • Appointing a Child Care Working Group that will report to Treasury Secretary Rubin on the role that business can play in providing child care.
  • Encouraging the use of community service to strengthen and expand after-school programs. The President announced actions by the Corporation for National Service's new To Learn and Grow Initiative, a public-private partnership dedicated to expanding access to and enhancing the quality of after-school programs through service, including the release of a "How-To Manual" that shows after-school programs how to incorporate community service into their programs.

This Conference builds on the President's commitment to strengthening America's working families. Part of this effort includes the Administration's work to improve and increase funding for child care. Because of the President's leadership: federal funding for child care has increased by nearly 70%; the 1996 welfare reform law increased child care funding by $4 billion over six years; the Healthy Child Care America Initiative is ensuring that children in child care are in safe and healthy environments; and Head Start funding has increased by 43% so that nearly 800,000 children are now being served.

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