Senate bill would expand child care, boost safety

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington. Show caption
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Child care providers who receive federal support would have to undergo criminal background checks, know first aid and CPR and get other medical training under a bill moving forward in the Senate.

The bipartisan measure would change a federal block grant program to expand access to federally subsidized child care and improve its quality. About 1.6 million children use federal subsidies to attend day-care programs at about 500,000 different centers and home-based providers. The measure would authorize $13.1 billion over five years for child care programs.

Debate on the bill began Wednesday, with a final vote expected Thursday.

Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland said the measure would ensure that child-care providers are trained, that children’s environments are safe and that programs prepare children for school.