LONDONDERRY — As the director at Applewood Learning Center, Libby Brunette is used to dealing with parents struggling to cope with the rising costs of child care.
With the average cost of providing full-time care for an infant at nearly $12,000 a year, Brunette and other children’s advocates believe parents need some extra help.
So does U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
Shaheen visited the Hampton Drive center yesterday to unveil legislation aimed at expanding the nation’s dependent care tax credit program to help low- and middle-class families afford the cost of child care.
“It is the biggest expense for families with kids,” she said. “This is something we need to better help working families.”
Shaheen was among a group of Democratic senators who introduced the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act in Washington on Tuesday.
If passed, the legislation would offer families a tax credit equal to 20 percent of child care expenses up to $8,000 for child and $16,000 for two or more children.
The current limits are $3,000 and $6,000, respectively, and have remained the same since 2001. Tax credits for families with annual household incomes exceeding $200,000 would be eliminated, Shaheen said.
The act also indexes the limits for inflation to prevent the credit from losing value over time.
Shaheen was joined at Applewood by representatives from Child Care Aware of New Hampshire and Early Learning New Hampshire.
Early Learning New Hampshire presented Shaheen with its 2014 Early Learning Champion Award for her efforts over the years to improve the welfare of children.
Early Learning executive director Jackie Cowell and Child Care Aware co-chairman Laurie Conrad praised Shaheen, who created the Business Commission on Child Care and Early Education when she served as New Hampshire’s governor.
“We are so happy you are here,” Conrad said. “Thank you for supporting child care.”