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Currently, there is a crisis in our communities: quality child care is very hard to find and even harder to pay for. As an educator, former school board president, and cofounder of a nonprofit education foundation, I understand not only the importance of K-12 and college education, but also the necessity of a firm foundation of quality early childhood education. Itís time we all realize that children learn fundamental skills during the first five years of life - skills that are essential to success later on. In this time of unprecedented prosperity, America must put first things first and focus on early childhood education.

The government currently helps families pay for child care through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, which provides funds through states to low-income families, and also through the Child Care Tax Credit, which allows families to receive up to a 20% refund for a limited amount of child care tuition. These programs help make child care more affordable for many families, but do not go far enough. Quality child care costs between $5,000 to $10,000 per year per child, consuming thirty percent of a typical working familyís income. I believe the federal government should not only continue, but increase, child care assistance to Pennsylvania families, and I will make it my top priority as your next Congressman.

Read Jeff Sanders' "First Things First" Child Care Initiative.