The U.S. bishops’ conference has praised federal lawmakers for reaching an agreement to reauthorize legislation that funds child care and job training for low-income families. “Child care is increasingly important for family stability, as well as finding and keeping decent work,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. On Sept. 15, he said that the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act will “strengthen a program that has worked well over the last two decades and continues to provide low-income working families with the child care assistance they need, from the provider they choose.” Changes to the act are intended to improve parental choice in child care, to strengthen health and safety standards, and to improve child care programs’ quality. The program was last reauthorized in 1996. A bipartisan group of legislators agreed on the legislation’s changes and reauthorization on Sept. 12, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reports. The U.S. Congress is expected to consider the agreement soon. Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education, said the agreement is “wonderful news” and “a testament to what can be achieved when we put the needs of parents and children first.” “This legislative agreement also appropriately reaffirms the importance and pre-eminence of the child care certificates as the bedrock parental choice component of the program and acknowledges the critical role that Catholic and other faith-based providers play in this program,” he said. Brother Robert Bimonte, president of the National Catholic Educational Association, said the grant program’s success and its flexibility for low-income families is “a reminder that empowering parents not only supports them in their role as primary educators of their children but also provides them with the assistance necessary to find employment and support their families.”
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