[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[May 9, 1998]
[Pages 732-733]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 732]]

The President's Radio Address
May 9, 1998

    Good morning. Tomorrow is Mother's Day, a special moment to express 
the gratitude, respect, and love we feel all year round. Our mothers 
give us life; they offer us unconditional love, strong guidance, and the 
sense that we can grow up to do anything we can dream of. From our first 
moments, mothers are our best teachers and most selfless friends. And 
like my own mother, whom I miss very much, especially on Mother's Day, 
they rarely ask for thanks. A mother's main wish is to see her children 
grow up healthy and happy.
    Today I want to talk about a few ways we, here in Washington, can 
give all mothers that peace of mind, whether they work in an office, a 
factory, a hospital, or at home. To make that tribute to motherhood, we 
must all take responsibility for the care of our children. For many 
mothers who work, as my mother did, peace of mind requires affordable, 
quality child care. Millions of American women have full-time jobs 
outside the home. Three of five mothers with children under 6 are 
working to meet their obligations to their children and their employers. 
Juggling those responsibilities is even more difficult when quality 
child care is either hard to find or too expensive to afford.
    That's why I've included in my balanced budget a significant new 
investment in child care. I urge Congress to join me in making child 
care better, safer, and more affordable for those who need it.
    To help parents find the best care for their children, today I'm 
releasing a report by the Department of Health and Human Services. It's 
a consumer guide to child care quality that recommends four steps for 
parents: One, interview the potential caregivers; two, check the 
references; three, evaluate how the caregiver meets your child's needs; 
and four, stay involved. As Mother's Day reminds us, governments don't 
raise children, parents do. There is no substitute for a mother's love 
or a parent's responsibility.
    We, too, in the National and State Governments, however, have a 
responsibility. A big one is to protect America's children from abuse 
and neglect. Nothing gives mothers peace of mind like the knowledge 
their children are in safe hands. Today I'm also releasing a new Justice 
Department set of guidelines for screening child care workers and other 
caregivers. And again, I urge Congress to act on a proposal I've put 
forth to facilitate background checks on child caregivers. There is 
strong bipartisan support for this proposal, and I'm hopeful that 
members of both parties will move quickly to give America's children the 
care they deserve.
    There is one other thing I'd like to talk about that we must do to 
protect our children. Fathers must take their share of responsibility, 
too. Children deserve to be raised by both parents, but when that's not 
possible, children must still receive the support they need. The 
unfortunate division of families cannot mean the end of child support. 
That's why we have worked so hard to toughen enforcement of child 
support laws, and since 1992 we've raised collections by 68 percent a 
    We've worked too hard for too long toughening enforcement of child 
support laws to let our progress be accidentally undone. But that could 
happen if Congress goes ahead with one part of bankruptcy reform 
legislation now under consideration. I'm willing to work with Congress 
to pass responsible and fair bankruptcy reform. However, under one 
leading proposal, when a father declares personal bankruptcy, a mother 
may have to compete with powerful banks and credit card companies for 
the money they're owed. That's not the law now, and if that competition 
starts, we all know who will lose the contest: our children.
    Parents have to step up to their responsibilities, and so does 
Congress. Some changes to consumer bankruptcy laws are in order, but 
mothers and children should keep their priority under the child support 
laws. They shouldn't have to stand in line for the support they need.
    America's mothers hold a special place in our hearts. In return, we 
owe them the love and respect they have given us. On Mother's Day, we do 
so with cards, bouquets, and gifts. But today and every other day, we 
should also do everything in our power to give our mothers the peace of 
mind they deeply deserve.
    Thanks for listening.

[[Page 733]]

Note: The address was recorded at 9:56 a.m. on May 8 in the Oval Office 
at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on May 9.