LEXINGTON, Ky. — Hillary Clinton pledged Tuesday that as president she will ensure that families pay no more than 10 percent of their income on child care, a significant and rising cost for working parents.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Clinton said of the cost of quality care for young children and the difficulties faced by working parents. “It’s the most important job that any of us can do, and we’re making it really hard and really expensive.”
The Democratic presidential front-runner’s campaign said the proposed mix of federal subsidies or tax credits to pay for the new benefit will be announced later. Clinton will also propose raising wages for child-care workers and expanding home-visit programs for new parents.
“Secretary Clinton is acutely aware that the middle class is extremely stretched when it comes to affording quality childcare,” campaign policy adviser Ann O’Leary said in a statement. “While middle class wages have stagnated in the last decade, costs of childcare have gone up by nearly 25 percent.”
Clinton wants “substantial new investments” in federal subsidies for lower-income families and tax breaks for middle-class families to meet the goal of limiting costs to 10 percent of family income, O’Leary said.
The Clinton campaign said the monthly cost of sending two children to a quality child-care center is higher than the average cost of rent in every state. In a majority of states, the cost of infant care is higher than the tuition at public universities, the campaign statement claimed.
Clinton referred to some of those statistics during a discussion with young working parents at a social services center in Lexington that offers subsidized day care. She endorsed several of the approaches and services offered in the bright, cheerful preschool classroom.
“I’m looking for good ideas” that can serve as national models, she said.
Clinton visited a healthcare center in Louisville later Tuesday and was holding an evening rally.
Kentucky holds its Democratic primary on May 17. While polling is scant, rival Sen. Bernie Sanders is favored in the state. Losses this month, including an expected defeat in the West Virginia primary on Tuesday, would slightly erode Clinton’s lead over Sanders but not change the overall dynamic that all but ensures she will be the nominee.
Clinton’s focus on family services and the cost of child care may have less to do with Sanders and more to do with taking a policy-heavy high road against likely Republican nominee Donald Trump.
On Monday, she talked about schools, child care and family budgets with a small group of invited guests at a coffee shop in suburban Loudoun County, Virginia, a swing county in a key swing state.
The settings and topics are meant to contrast Clinton’s experience and problem-solving approach with what her campaign calls Trump’s thin credentials and skimpy proposals. Campaign aides and Clinton allies are slamming the presumptive Republican nominee hourly, but Clinton herself is seeking to stay out of the mud six months before the election.
On Monday, she deflected reporters’ questions about whether it is fair or appropriate for Trump to raise the issue of former president Bill Clinton’s infidelity.
“I’m going to let him run his campaign however he chooses,” she said in Virginia. “I’m going to run my campaign, which is about a positive vision for our country with specific plans that I think will help us solve problems that we’re facing.”
Also Tuesday, Clinton planned to propose a program to help fund higher wages for child-care workers, whose wages often remain low despite the overall high cost of child care in institutional settings. The program, like one she has proposed for caregivers for the elderly and disabled, would fund and reward states for helping raise caregiver wages.
She was also proposing home-visit services for more than 2 million parents and young children over the next 10 years to improve maternal and child health and children’s development and learning. Her campaign said Clinton wants to double federal investment in “evidence-based” home-visit programs in which social workers or nurses provide instruction, tips and resources.