The first phase of a new daycare facility exclusively for U.S. House employees will open this week in an effort to keep highly qualified staff on the Hill, NPR reported Tuesday.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., with more than $12 million in taxpayer funds, helped push for the 26,000 square foot, state-of-the-art childcare facility in a government building adjacent to the Capitol.
The first phase will provide care for up to 120 infants and toddlers, while the second phase will add 122 preschoolers in about a year.
"If somebody is working for you and wants to continue to serve government, but says 'I don't have daycare so I can't stay here, the wait list is too long, the quality is not there,' then you are disadvantaging who can actually serve and work in government at the same time," McCarthy told NPR.
Melissa Murphy, chief of staff to Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., explained many congressional staffers would "make the decision to leave the Hill and leave public service because the cost of private daycare is difficult to maintain on some of the congressional salaries."
The House daycare costs between $1100 and $1700 a month, which is just a fraction of the cost of comparable private daycare in the Washington, D.C., area.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said she hopes the new daycare can also help attract more young women to run for office, as childcare concerns have been one of the biggest deterrents from seeking office.
Some fear, however, the facility could open up Congress to public criticism that lawmakers are providing such childcare for their own, but have done little to ease the crushing costs of childcare nationwide.
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