A picture of Representative Chaka Fattah
Chaka F.
Democrat PA 2

About Rep. Chaka
  • Child Care

    by Representative Chaka Fattah

    Posted on 2016-01-07

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    FATTAH. Let me thank the gentlewoman who has organized this Special Order.

    There is no greater cause that could be the focus of our attention in this august body than that of future generations of Americans. Too much time is focused on the next election, so I want to thank the gentlewoman from New Jersey for focusing the House today on the next generation.

    Mr. Speaker, with certainty, we know that early childhood, quality daycare, and early education are the fundamental building blocks. We as a nation are competing with countries like China and India, which have very populated nations. We need to make sure that every single American child has the ability to rise up to his potential so that our Nation can remain number one in the world.

    I serve on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. In the last couple of weeks, we have done our work and have passed the appropriations bill, and, this year, we have made some progress. I first want to talk about the good news.

    {time} 1915 We did appropriate $2.7 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and we increased it over last year, FY15, by $326 million. Now, that is the good news. The problem, of [[Page H165]] course, is that we still are a far cry away from providing for every family that will be eligible opportunities at affordable child care.

    Let me give you a ``for instance'' closer to home. I represent the birthplace of our democracy, Philadelphia. I think it is one of the greatest cities in the world. We spent about $300 million this year on Head Start and childcare activities, almost all of it Federal money; $190 million are coming out of the Child Care Block Grant I referenced earlier, some $300 million. We are only providing for 33 percent of the families in Philadelphia who would be eligible for child care through this effort. So we need to do more.

    Hopefully, the city and the State will be partners in this effort, but our Nation has to see this, as President Nixon once said, as a national imperative, that is, that we have a national interest in every one of these children living up to their potential.

    Now, 2 years ago, in a series done by WHYY and NewsWorks, they focused on child care. They told this story on one occasion about a young lady by the name of Queen Muse who was getting her degree from La Salle University, taking graduate courses. She was working very, very hard. She was rising at a very early hour to drop off her young daughter at a family member's home because she couldn't afford appropriate child care and affordable child care.

    Now, here is someone doing what we want them to do, getting a college education, getting a graduate degree. We need to be doing more to provide those early rungs on the ladder of opportunity for those who are in the early stages of family formulation and, in some cases, who are raising children as single parents. So there is much more that we can do.

    In Philadelphia, we have a system that, even though not perfect, is working very well. I know through CCIS out on Greene Street in northwest Philadelphia, there is an opportunity where families and parents can get access to quality child care, federally funded as a contractor with the Urban League. Again, we need to do more, and that is why I came here to the floor this evening.

    Now, I know that the Nation is preparing for the President's town meeting on guns tonight, and that is another issue related to families and family safety. We totally support the President's efforts in that regard, and I am going to work with the administration as a member of the Appropriations Committee to help fund those gun safety activities.

    In terms of child care, this is about families also, and making sure that the youngest among us have every opportunity to learn and to grow. In fact, we know through the work we have done on brain science now that, as the Congresswoman from New Jersey says, this is the period of time in which the brain is like a sponge. It can learn almost anything. We should be doing so much more in our early childhood efforts, in our childcare efforts to develop the language skills and the reading skills for these young people as the basic building blocks for their lifelong education So I thank the gentlewoman for yielding, and much more importantly, I thank her for her extraordinary leadership on the most important issue in our Nation, and that is the preparation of future generations of American leaders.

    Mrs. WATSON COLEMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania for his wise words and the wisdom that has come with this experience.

    Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).

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