WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — There’s concern from lawmakers that the childcare crisis is getting worse. Senators and experts agree, childcare is increasingly unaffordable for many Americans.
“We’re talking about paying people 13, 14 dollars an hour,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said.
Wednesday, lawmakers including Sanders asked experts how to both increase pay for childcare workers and lower the cost for parents.
“Why is childcare so expensive?” Sanders asked.
Sanders said child care often costs more than $15,000 per year.
“Can families afford in many cases, middle-class, working-class families afford childcare?” Sanders asked.
“Families cannot afford it,” National Association for Education of Young Children Managing Director Lauren Hogan said.
Sanders said the childcare system in New Mexico is an example other states could follow.
“We raised everybody’s wages $3 an hour,” New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky said.
That change came after more than 70% of New Mexico voters supported dedicating nearly $150 million per year to early childhood education.
“Non-profit, for-profit, faith-based, there are lots of options for families and it’s important that we invest in all of those options,” Groginsky said.
However, Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said there are too many regulations in the way to establish childcare facilities and the federal government shouldn’t be involved.
“It makes it almost cost prohibitive and so if we really want to fix costs, we should start looking at ourselves and seeing another way to soften the amount of regulations and still keep our kids safe,” Mullin said.
Despite these concerns, Republicans agreed childcare costs need to be reined in before it gets worse.