WASHINGTON, June 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- As the nation faces an ever-worsening child care crisis that has a crippling effect on the economy, the Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC) applauds Congress for its continued focus on the issue. However, immediate additional funding for child care is a must-do priority before families are left without access to care that is essential to their participation in the workforce.
Access to child care is critical. It not only affects the families who rely on it to care for and educate their children, but also employers who rely on working parents each day to support their businesses. These investments are more important than ever given the severe workforce shortage facing our country, both in the child care sector and in the labor market more broadly. Without addressing the needs of the child care sector, we cannot address the needs of the economy as a whole. If providers do not have the educators and staff they need to keep classrooms open, they cannot fully serve the children of our nation's workforce. Furthermore, investments in child care not just address a current workforce need, but are also a down payment on our future success as a nation.
For years, both Democrats and Republicans have prioritized early care and education by making investments in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). During the pandemic, Congress allocated significant funding to the program in order to prevent the collapse of the already struggling child care industry through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act. Democrats built on these two bills by including $39 billion in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). These funds have and continue to serve as a lifeline for the industry. ECEC, our educators and the families we serve are grateful that this funding has enabled children and families to retain access to high-quality care and education.
However, the Covid-19 stabilization funding is time-limited and will soon run out. The stabilization dollars are set to expire in September 2023, with temporary CCDBG funding expiring in 2024. Without additional funding, the child care industry and the families it serves will suffer. Families will face a dramatic decrease in child care options—particularly in those communities already facing a shortage. Families' inability to access child care will exacerbate employee absence, turnover, reduction of hours, postponement of education or training and working parents leaving the workforce.
Without sustained robust investment in CCDBG, child care providers will also be forced to increase tuition to continue the necessary significant investments in the workforce facilitated, in part, by the relief dollars. These investments include providing permanent wage increases rather than one-time bonus payments to ensure sustainable increases in salary and professional development support. Furthermore, states may also be forced to roll back expanded eligibility, which will leave many low-income families without access to high-quality care. Without long-term federal investments, the longstanding systemic instability of the industry will continue to plague our country long after the pandemic has ended, and the existing challenges will only be exacerbated.
Over the past several months, members of Congress have taken steps to provide long-term investments to the child care industry. ECEC thanks Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) for their leadership and work to secure long-term funding through budget reconciliation. We believe budget reconciliation is the most immediate way to rebuild the child care industry. A recent plan released by both senators rightly prioritizes a $72 billion investment in CCDBG and a $12 billion investment in the Head Start workforce over six years—two critical elements of improving state child care infrastructures.
ECEC also thanks Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Tim Scott (R-SC) for their leadership in introducing the CCDBG Reauthorization Act of 2022.
Additionally, Republicans and Democrats have both recently called for increased funding for CCDBG. Sens. Burr, Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Todd Young (R-IN) proposed doubling CCDBG over five years, while Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Maria Salazar (R-FL), along with 16 other House Republicans, called for robust funding for the program. On the Democratic side, Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), joined by 41 other Senate Democrats, and Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA) and Norma Torres (D-CA), joined by 126 other House Democrats, proposed doubling CCDBG next year with an additional $6.2 billion for FY 2023.
Child care investments through reconciliation and appropriations are not mutually exclusive—funding in child care can and should be made immediately through budget reconciliation, and sustained through annual appropriations, with necessary policy reforms to the CCDBG program through a reauthorization bill. In order to address the urgent needs of the industry, we must utilize all available avenues. The child care industry, which has historically been chronically underfunded, needs and deserves robust funding for the sake of our families, educators and economy.
ABOUT THE EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION CONSORTIUM
The Early Care and Education Consortium is a non-profit alliance of the leading multi-state/multi-site child care providers, key state child care associations, and premier educational service providers, representing over 7,100 programs in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and select international locations. Our members serve as the unified collective voice for providers of high-quality programs and services that support families and children from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. We are advocates for strong federal and state policies that bring quality to scale. Learn more at https://www.ececonsortium.org/.
Original story HERE.