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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is set to announce a series of economic initiatives Monday aimed at helping struggling middle class families.The proposals include a doubling of the child care tax credit, caps onstudent loan payments, and aid for families taking care of elderly relatives. The plan would also offer retirement savings options for workers who don’t get an employer-based plan.

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The White House has promised a sharper focus on jobs and the economy as the dust settles from the punishing loss of the late Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts. Republican Scott Brown’s victory put the seat in the hands of Republicans for the first time in decades and took away Democrats’ 60-vote majority in the Senate.

Democrats are trying to regroup to head off more populist anger and stem more losses of congressional, gubernatorial and legislative seats in the 2010 midterm elections. President Barack Obama’s poll numbers are also off — primarily because of the slow economic recovery and double-digit unemployment. A majority of Americans also have turned against health care reform, the president’s signature legislative effort now in jeopardy.

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Top Obama adviser David Axelrod said Sunday the administration needs to “grow this economy in a way that allows hardworking people who are meeting their responsibilities to get ahead instead of falling behind.”

The initiatives being announced Monday were first reported by The New York Times.

White House official says they are aimed at the “sandwich generation” — Americans that are struggling to care for both their children and their parents.

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Helping middle class families in particular is expected to be a key theme on Wednesday when Obama delivers his first State of the Union address. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the speech has not been finalized.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will announce the initiatives at a meeting of the administration’s middle class task force.