Child Care Flex Spending Act would double the current $5k limit for tax-free flex spending accounts

NORTH HAVEN— At an event at the Sunny Side Up Early Learning Center in North Haven, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) announced their plans to introduce a bill that will help make child care more affordable for thousands of families across Connecticut. This legislation, the Child Care Flex Spending Act, will double the existing $5,000 maximum that employees can set aside tax-free to help offset child care costs.

Since 1981, Congress has allowed employers to provide flexible spending accounts to their employees. These accounts give employees the option of setting aside money tax-free to pay for their dependent care needs. In 1986, these accounts were capped at $5,000 but not indexed to inflation, leaving middle class families struggling with ever-higher child care costs. Murphy and DeLauro’s bill would allow employees who make less than $200,000 a year to set aside up to $10,000 per year to help pay for child care costs, and would be adjusted for inflation over time.  

Murphy and DeLauro plan to introduce this legislation in response to a report, conducted by Murphy’s office, that reveals the considerable burden child care places on families throughout Connecticut. A similar report that highlighted the high cost of child care was issued last year by Murphy’s office.

“It’s obscene how much child care costs for thousands of families across Connecticut. Hard working families are struggling to pay the bills as it is, and the high cost of child care is only making things worse,” said Murphy. “This bill will allow families to double the amount of pre-tax money they can put into a flexible savings account, making it easier to afford the exorbitant of child care.”

“We need to make sure our political, social, and economic policies reflect the working world of the 21st century and that they are meeting the real needs of today’s middle and working class families,” DeLauro said.  “That is why House Democrats have introduced a women’s economic agenda that includes helping families gain access to quality, affordable child care.  The Child Care Flex Spending Act is a key part of ensuring that access is a reality for Connecticut families. We need to act on this plan so that parents have help with the often crippling cost of child care.”

Below please find highlights of the report:

-          According to the survey, full-time child care in Connecticut costs on average $11,462 – approximately 1 percent higher than the previous year.  This represents 17% of the median household income for CT, nearly double what the US Department of Health and Human Service considers to be the maximum affordable cost of child care 

-         The cost of child care in Connecticut varies greatly by town, with the average cost rising over the last year. The town with the lowest average cost of child care is New London at $8,060, while Stamford had the highest rates at $15,952.

-         The absolute lowest rate reported for care was found at a center in Hartford at $6,257, while the highest rate was reported by a center-based provider in New Haven at $21,580 a year.

-         In every town, the average rate for center-based child care is consistently higher than home-based child care. The average price of center-based care for the entire state came to $12,220 versus $10,120 for care from home-based providers.

-          The average cost of care has increased for children of all age groups over the last year. Among the different age groups, the average cost of infant care in Connecticut is $12,046, the average cost of toddler care is $11,707 and the cost of pre-school care is $10,631. 

The full report can be found here: