Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee


Hearing on S.2178, "The Childrens Development Commission Act"


Prepared Testimony of the Honorable Herb Kohl (D-WI)
United States Senator

11:00 a.m., Tuesday, October 6, 1998


Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to speak here today, and thank you for making time in this very busy week to address the issue of financing quality child care. As most of you know, the Chairman is the Republican co-author of S.2178, the Children's Development Commission Act or "Kiddie Mac."

I also want to thank Representatives Maloney and Baker who introduced Kiddie Mac legislation on the House side, and who have worked tirelessly to develop the technical details of this legislation.

Our legislation will encourage lenders to make long term loans for building or renovating child care facilities. I will leave it to my House colleagues, who have so much expertise in these areas, to discuss the details of this proposal. I would like to speak briefly on the problem we seek to address.

One casualty of this election year's increasing partisanship and scandal obsession is the drive to increase the accessibility of quality child care in this country. Last January, we saw Republicans and Democrats embrace the ideas of tax credits for employer provided child care, increased funding for early education programs, and innovative ideas for training the teachers of our youngest children. As we end the legislative year, I am afraid none of these new programs will have become law.

And that is more than a shame -- it is a terrible missed opportunity. We have always talked about the necessities of life as being food, clothing and shelter. I think it is time we add a fourth -- quality child care. It is necessary to give our children the strong start they need. It is necessary if we are going to take advantage of the tremendous ability to learn in the first three years of life.

And quality child care is necessary in order for the growing number of families in which both parents work -- for the growing number of single parent families -- to be able to earn a living, and for businesses that want to attract and retain productive, happy employees.

Unfortunately, by every measure and in every state, quality child care is in short supply. And in most areas of the country, the sweeping welfare reform we passed has exacerbated existing shortages. In my State of Wisconsin, the State's welfare reform plan will generate the need for 8000 new child care slots in Milwaukee Country alone. And in New York City, by the year 2001, there will be 30,000 more children who need child care than there are child care spaces for them.

Kiddie Mac is a market-based, small-government approach to moving capital toward investments that will remedy these unsustainable shortages of quality child care. Kiddie Mac's services will be available to any organization who can show they will provide quality child care: businesses, non-profits, churches or synagogues, family home providers, or after-school programs. Decisions as to how much and how the care will be provided are left where they belong: with the local providers, with local communities, and with the parents.

Thank you for you attention. I look forward to working with all of you as we make a last effort this year to turn this modest proposal into law.


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