(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT, 3rd), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA, 3rd), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced 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.
“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.”
Senator Murray has long fought for increased investment in child care, and was instrumental in securing $3.5 billion for child care nationwide in the CARES Act, including $58 million for Washington state. Senator Murray also secured crucial funding increases in the 2019 and 2020 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bills for the CCDBG program, which this bill would further bolster.
A one-page summary of the Child Care is Essential Act can be found here.