WASHINGTON - With overwhelming support, Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) today introduced a measure that will address one of the biggest concerns to parents in America: childcare. The legislation, The Child Care Business Lending Pilot of 2003, will allow non-profit child care providers to apply for low, fixed rate interest loans through the Small Business Administration's community development loan program, the 504 loan.

"Millions of children every day go to dilapidated, outdated and unsafe child care facilities because it’s all they can afford." said John Kerry. "Non-profit child care facilities, which often are the most important sources of Head Start and Early Head Start education, can not rely on grants and donations alone - a low interest, fixed rate loan will allow them to fix the leaky roof, remove asbestos, replace lead-based paint or add facilities that are handicap accessible."

The bill, introduced on the Senate floor today, will use the SBA's 504-loan program to spur the establishment and expansion of childcare providers. As the law currently stands, only for-profit businesses are eligible to apply, yet in some states, the majority of childcare is offered through non-profit providers and in the neediest communities, non-profits are OFTEN the only facilities. For various reasons, from eligibility for state lunch programs to state child care reimbursement plans, many childcare providers are forced to organize as non-profits.

By allowing non-profit childcare providers to finance through the SBA, it would provide access to loans with a fixed, affordable interest rate, long terms that keep the monthly cost low, and a minimal down payment - all making the cost of the loan more affordable. Increasing access to this type of financing would encourage and make it possible for more non-profit child care providers to build, expand or upgrade their facilities and equipment. "Our greatest asset is our children - providing quality and affordable child care is necessary and it is important."