Before Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress and the presidency, Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat who represents Oregon’s 1st congressional district, made the state's childcare crisis her priority. 

…Now Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House. After a flurry of bills to jump-start the economy after COVID-19, including the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Democratic lawmakers see an opportunity to move forward with childcare legislation. 

On March 16, Bonamici and New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman reintroduced Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark’s Child Care is Infrastructure Act. The legislation establishes loan and grant programs for childcare facilities and early childhood educators to stem the childcare crisis in Oregon and around the country. 

What the Child Care is Infrastructure Act does is recognize the importance of childcare for our families and our economy. It invests in facilities and providers, establishes grant programs to improve state facilities and establishes a higher education loan repayment program for early childhood educators, which is also very critical. It also funds campus childcare to support student parents. 

If we invest in kids today, it pays for itself multiple times over because they enter the school system ready to learn. Families aren’t missing as much work and we spend less on social safety net services if families are being supported that way. 

Another thing we got in there was the child tax credit with a refundable tax credit of $1,600 per child. We have also been able to secure critical funding for Head Start, which will help families gain access to childcare. This has been estimated to cut poverty in half. 

Access to childcare is an issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic not created by the pandemic. It is not something there is necessarily a market solution for because you can’t raise the tuition to pay the providers since families are already paying as much as they can. 

You can’t lower tuition because these providers are often already making poverty wages. Providers who work at some of the larger places have college degrees and student loans. 

One parent I spoke to said: “For any working family, childcare is one of our basic needs. If it crumbles or gets even a fraction more difficult to find, our collective ability to work crumbles too.” 

It predominantly affects women. Often women of color are more likely to be childcare providers, and they can’t go back to work. This is also an issue of gender and racial equality.

Investing in childcare should not and has not been a partisan issue. There has been a recognition on both sides of the aisle that this is something important. Across the country there has been this recognition, highlighted by the pandemic, that we need to have childcare or we’re not going to be able to reopen our economy. 


Original story here.