In this new economy we can no longer think of high-quality child care and after-school programs as luxury items, because yesterday's luxury item is tomorrow's standard equipment. If we want our nation to progress, we must move quickly towards the day when high-quality child care and after-school programs are standard equipment for every school in America, for every family in America, and for every child in America.
Today at the White House, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton are joined by a bipartisan group from Congress to announce nearly $60 million in new grants to establish or expand after-school programs. The President will also release new data that shows the pressing need for affordable child care for America's low-income working families.
President Clinton Fought To Secure Funding For After-School Programs. At least 5 million children -- and as many as 15 million children -- are left at home alone on any given day. Experts agree that school-age children who are unsupervised after school are far more likely to use alcohol, drugs, tobacco, commit crimes, receive poor grades, and drop out of school than those who are involved in supervised, constructive activities. That is why President Clinton fought for and won his full funding request of $200 million as part of the budget agreement last month for after-school programs through the 21st Century Community Learning Center program. This funding will allow roughly 250,000 children to participate in after-school programs that keep them safe and help them learn.
Supporting After-School Initiatives Nationwide. Today, the President will announce nearly $60 million in new grants to establish 21st Century Community Learning Center school-based after-school programs. This money will fund 183 grants to about 600 schools in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Today's grant recipients originally applied to the program during the last fiscal year under one of the most competitive programs ever managed by the Department of Education -- the Department received nearly 2,000 applications, requesting funding for programs in more than 6,000 schools nationwide. These new grants will allow the Department to fund many more qualified applicants. Of the remaining $140 million appropriated for fiscal year 1999, $40 million will fund renewed grants for last year's recipients, and $100 million will be administered by the Department of Education through a new after-school grant competition.
Millions Of Low Income Children Are Still Without Child Care Assistance. The President will release data showing that states only provided child care assistance to 1.25 million children in low-income families out of a total of 10 million children eligible for assistance. The President fought to include $4 billion in child care assistance subsidies in the welfare law he signed in 1996, allowing a quarter of a million more low-income children to receive child care in 1997; however, states still have more applicants than they can serve even though states obligated over 99 percent of their federal block grant funds in fiscal year 1997 and federal and state spending on child care increased 35 percent in fiscal year 1997.
The President Will Work On A Bipartisan Basis With The Next Congress To Expand Child Care For Low Income Children. As part of his fiscal year 1999 balanced budget request, the President proposed a funding increase that would have, combined with the child care funds provided in the welfare reform law, enabled the child care program to serve about one million new low-income children -- but Congress did not support this proposal. The President remains committed to expanding child care for low-income children, and will work with Congress on a bipartisan basis next year to make child care better, safer, and more affordable for America's working families.