Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Congressmembers Jahana Hayes (CT-5), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Danny Davis (IL-7), and Tom Malinowski (NJ-7) called for a $100 billion investment to aid in the relief, recovery and revitalization of the child care sector in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy, the House members outline a proposal providing $50 billion in the form of short-term stabilization funding and an additional $50 billion in long-term recovery funding to support students, families and providers.
“The coronavirus crisis has hit the child care system especially hard, causing widespread layoffs and mandatory closures,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “An investment of $50 billion in the next COVID-19 relief package would be an important start to help meet current child care needs for families, provide economic security for child care businesses, and support child care workers. This economic crisis won’t end for families unless parents have access to quality child care.”
“Child care is critical to supporting essential workers today and to our ability to return to work in the future,” said Congresswoman Clark. “The nation’s early education and child care sector has been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and for too long, has been undervalued and underfunded. For a robust economic recovery, we cannot just maintain the status quo, where providers operate on the thinnest of margins and families struggle to find and afford quality care. We must begin to make a comprehensive investment in our early education and care system to ensure the economic and educational future of our country, and the moment to act is now.”
“Even before this pandemic, over 44% of people in Connecticut lived in a child care desert,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “After conversations with child care providers in my district, I know that this problem is only going to get worse and only a fraction of providers in our state will be able to survive this crisis. We need to ensure that these critical services, which make it possible for parents to return to the workforce and children to grow and thrive, are stabilized and supported. I am calling on my colleagues to prioritize this vital sector in any future legislative package.”
“Child care serves as one of the most effective ways to reduce child poverty and to increase employment and earnings,” Congressman Davis said. “A $50 billion investment in child care in the next COVID package is critical to promoting family economic well-being and spurring national economic growth as we emerge from this crisis.”
“The last thing our country’s essential workers should be worrying about is who will take care of their children while they are out serving their communities,” said Congressman Malinowski. “And when America opens for business, our child care facilities have to still be there so that parents can go back to work without difficulty.”
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, 60 percent of licensed child care providers have already closed due to the pandemic and a survey from the National Association for the Education of Young Children shows that only 11% of our nation’s child care providers will survive without government support. The immediate $50 billion in short term investment would be used to sustain the viability of providers that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 and fund emergency care for the 6 million children of essential workers.
The lawmakers’ $50 billion long term investment would expand current funding and tax credits to support families and students while also creating new grant programs for child care infrastructure and workforce development.
Under their proposal, the financial burden associated with child care would be significantly reduced for families by:
– Requiring employers to extend the grace period to use a Dependent Care Assistance Plan;
– Enhancing and making the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable;
– Providing an increase in mandatory federal child care funding through the Child Care Entitlement to States and temporally waiving the state match for that increase so more families can access subsidized child care;
– Reauthorizing the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program at $200 million annually to provide more child care support to student parents.
The letter also calls for the creation of competitive infrastructure grants to support both the renovation and new construction of child care facilities, with priority given to those areas of the country that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
In addition to prioritizing facilities, the House members are requesting an investment in the higher education of our nation’s early childhood educators by offering $20 million per year for a student loan repayment program.
Finally, the House members are calling for $3.8 billion in renovation, maintenance, and repair funding for Head Start Centers; $2.3 billion to provide updated technological services for in-home early learning school readiness programs; and $989 million to cover the cost of providing an additional hour of mental health consultation for each child.
“Any attempt to restart this nation’s economy will be a wasted effort without a strong investment in our nation’s child care system,” Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center. “This support is direly needed to ensure child care providers can provide these essential services to their communities while keeping their workers safe and allowing parents to return to the workforce. Working mothers especially bear the burden of child care nationwide, and it’s no coincidence they are also most at risk for the economic pressures brought on by this pandemic. We thank Rep. Clark for fighting for a high-quality and sustainable child care system, without which millions of working families will be held back from any meaningful recovery.”
“Child care is the backbone of our nation’s response to disaster and the road to recovery”, said Rhian Evans Allvin, CEO, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). “The National Association for the Education of Young Children is grateful for the leadership of the Representatives who are calling for substantial, direct Congressional investment in child care, and who have engaged with early childhood educators and families in their communities to understand the intense challenges they face. We look forward to working together to secure the investments needed to sustain this essential industry that will continue to support children, families and the American economy through this crisis and the coming recovery.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has rocked the foundations of the already precarious child care system at the same time it’s demonstrated that child care must be an essential element of the nation’s economic recovery,” said Hannah Matthews, Deputy Executive Director for Policy, Center for Law and Social Policy. “The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) estimates that at least $9.6 billion is needed each month to fully fund existing providers during the pandemic–and additional funding is needed to support the industry’s long-term recovery. We applaud the leadership of the members of Congress who are proposing a $100 billion investment in child care—it is what we need to ensure that essential workers can stay on the job, parents can go back to work when public health allows, children can return to safe settings to learn and grow, and millions of child care workers—mostly women of color—will not lose their livelihoods.”
The letter was authored by Rep. Clark and co-signed by 84 members of the House.