Elizabeth Warren unveils universal child care bill

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- and Democratic presidential hopeful -- on Tuesday released a bill that would provide millions of families with free child care and early learning options if passed by Congress.

Warren previously rolled out the plan in an online blog post in mid-February. Under the bill -- called the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act -- families living below the 200 percent poverty threshold (roughly $51,500 for a family of four) would get free access to child care and early education, while families over would pay no more than 7 percent of their income, according to her office.

The federal government would pay for the majority of the locally run child care and early learning centers, Warren said. Wages and benefits for employees, meanwhile, would be comparable to local public school teachers.  The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Debra Haaland, D-N.M.

"As the wealthiest country in the world, access to affordable and high-quality child care and early education should be a right for all families rather than a privilege for only the rich," she said in a statement.

The bill is almost identical to what she proposed several months ago. At the time, Warren said that although the local communities would be in charge, providers would be required to adhere to national standards. The plan would be opt-in, but Warren estimated that 12 million kids would take advantage of the opportunity.

In order to fund it, Warren proposed using money from the ultra-millionaire tax that she announced at the end of January. Under the tax, anyone with more than $50 million in assets would pay a 2 percent tax. For those who have assets valued at $1 billion or higher, it would be a 3 percent tax. It’s projected to generate about $2.75 billion in revenue over the next decade, four times the estimated cost of the child care plan, according to Warren.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank, the cost of infant care annually can range from $4,822 (Mississippi, where the median family income is $44,717) to $22,631 (Washington, D.C., where the median family income is $63,587).

Warren rolled out a new feature on her website that allows users to answer questions to calculate how much they would save.


For a family of three with one child under the age of five that spends $8,500 annually on child care – and an income of $60,000 – the savings would be $7,900 per year, according to the calculator.

FOX Business’ Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.