Early childhood education advocates successfully secured billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief and now are lobbying for child care to stay in the final infrastructure package after President Biden included funding for the industry in his proposal.

One of the groups leading the charge is the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), a small nonprofit that got the attention of Congress and both Presidents Trump and Biden.

“Just because we are early childhood advocates doesn’t mean we can’t get out there and try to fight along the biggest, most high-powered corporations out there,” said Sarah Rittling, executive director of FFYF.

Child care has received $54 billion since the start of the pandemic. Biden’s American Rescue Plan allotted $39 billion, which included $15 billion for a grant program and $24 billion for a child care stabilization fund. Congress provided the other $15 billion in previous relief packages.

The president’s infrastructure proposal includes a Child Care Growth and Innovation Fund, which would provide $25 billion for constructing and renovating child care facilities.

But with congressional Republicans slamming Biden’s broad definition of infrastructure, going far beyond roads and bridges, FFYF is now fighting to ensure that $25 billion finds its way into the final legislation. 

...Biden’s proposal would provide a tax credit to businesses to build facilities in their workplaces, up to 50 percent of $1 million in construction costs.

...Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), the assistant Speaker, was the first member of Congress to call for stabilization funding of the child care industry in March 2020 when the pandemic hit the U.S. Now she’s supporting child care as an infrastructure component.

“Child care is essential infrastructure. While this has always been true, the industry has long been undervalued and unfunded. The economic fallout from the pandemic has brought a new understanding of the value of child care, and now we must improve the safety of our facilities, support the financial well-being of early educators, and expand access to every family,” Clark told The Hill.

“The First Five Years Fund has been an incredible partner in this fight, and I know that together we will make quality, affordable child care a reality for every family.”

...Rittling said that the past year, when the majority of Americans were working from home, put a national focus on the challenges of child care. And that concern resonated with lawmakers and congressional staff.

“There were others who were saying, ‘Jeez, this is a big deal.’ And if we’re ever going to get back to normal or any sense of the new normal, we need to have this addressed,” she said.


Original story here.