WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus joined with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee to introduce new legislation, the Child Care is Essential Act, to create a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund within the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. As businesses begin to re-open and working families need child care, many providers across the country remain shut down or are operating with significantly reduced capacity. Child care providers that are able to stay open are struggling to cover their increased operating costs with limited revenue, and many are at risk of permanent closure. Recent estimates from the National Women’s Law Center show that it would take at least $9.6 billion per month to keep current child care providers in business.
The new Child Care Stabilization Fund would provide grant funding to child care providers to stabilize the child care sector and support providers to safely reopen and operate. These grants would help child care providers and working families by:
- Ensuring that the grants adequately support providers’ operating expenses and funding gets to them quickly;
- Requiring that providers continue to pay their staff;
- Providing tuition and copayment relief for working families;
- Promoting health and safety through compliance with public health guidance;
- Prioritizing providers that serve underserved populations;
- Ensuring grants are awarded equitably across child care settings; and
- Conducting oversight through robust reporting requirements.
“Ask any parent and they will tell you that child care is as essential to our economic infrastructure as our roads and bridges. Unfortunately, for too long, we’ve failed to treat it that way and now the coronavirus has brought this vital sector of our economy to its breaking point,” said Congresswoman Clark. “With this infusion of resources, we will stabilize our child care providers and ensure that these businesses survive, allowing our kids to return to their classrooms and parents to return to their work. An investment of this scale is the only way that we can reopen America and recover from this public health crisis without leaving moms, dads, and kids behind.”
“The workers and small business owners that care for our children while we work desperately need the federal government’s help,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “The COVID-19 pandemic has our nation on the precipice of an economic catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen, and child care providers are facing financial ruin. To date, the Congress has provided much needed funding to deal with the crisis—passing a $3.5 billion infusion in the CARES Act and $7 billion in the House-passed Heroes Act—but now needs to do much more to meet the demands of this historic moment. That is why we must invest $50 billion to support our nation’s working families and this critical industry in our economy. I urge my colleagues in the Appropriations Committee and throughout the Congress to join us in this effort.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing our already fragile child care system to the brink of collapse,” said Chairman Scott. “Without immediate relief, an overwhelming number child care providers will permanently close and workers across the country will not have access to affordable child care just as businesses are beginning to reopen. This legislation is more than a proposal to save child care, it is an essential step to support working families and responsibly restart our economy.”
“We absolutely cannot overlook the critical role child care will play in our nation’s ability to recover from the current COVID-19 crisis. Right now, frontline workers are relying on access to child care in order to keep our communities safe, healthy and fed. Yet, our entire child care system is struggling to keep doors open for families. I have talked to child care providers across Washington state and each one of them has told me that their business just can’t survive this crisis without support,” said Senator Murray. “We have long had a child care crisis in this country, but if the federal government doesn’t step up immediately, not only will frontline workers be unable to stay on the job, but families across the country might not have child care providers to return to once our economy opens up. Every day we wait the child care crisis worsens—we have to do everything we can to make sure that all families—not just the wealthiest families—have access to child care right now, and in the future.”
Rep. Clark is a cosponsor of the Child Care is Essential Act along with Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Nita Lowey (NY-17), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), and Haley Stevens (MI-11). Senate cosponsors include: Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Tina Smith (D-MN).
“This crisis has laid bare how dependent our entire economy is on access to affordable, high-quality child care,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “The labor of essential workers is made possible by this diverse, women-led industry, without whom millions of working parents will not be able to return to their jobs. The child care industry has long been undervalued by a worldview that sees women and the jobs we perform as less deserving and less essential, and any attempt to reopen our economy must not make that same mistake. We applaud the leadership of Senator Murray and Representatives DeLauro and Scott in seeking the robust investment sorely needed by child care providers, working families, and an entire generation of children.”
“The current public health and economic crisis is decimating the country's already-precarious child care system,” said Hannah Matthews, Deputy Executive Director for Policy for the Center for Law and Social Policy. “Hundreds of thousands of child care programs are at risk of permanent closure if they do not receive financial support. The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is proud to support the Child Care is Essential Act—$50 billion in public funding that will sustain child care through the pandemic and lay the foundation for an economic recovery where parents can go back to work, children can return to nurturing settings that help them thrive, and millions of child care workers—disproportionately women of color—will not lose their livelihoods.
A one-page summary of the Child Care is Essential Act can be found here.