Wyden, Casey, Brown Introduce Bill to Rebuild Child Care Infrastructure

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and U.S. Senators Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, today introduced a bill to rebuild a stronger, more robust child care infrastructure to help ensure families can access affordable, quality child care no matter where they live.

“Our child care supply was in a state of disrepair even before a world-wide health and economic crisis struck. For far too long, working families have had little to no options for affordable, quality child care in their neighborhoods,” Wyden said. “The Rebuilding a Better Child Care Infrastructure Act would pump tens of billions of dollars in long-term federal investment to build a stronger, more equitable child care system, brick by brick. Working families can’t afford to wait any longer.” 

“For many families, child care is one of their highest expenses—sometimes equal to the cost of their monthly rent or mortgage. Simply put—with stagnant wages and the rising cost of child care—many families are struggling to afford quality care for their children and maybe forced to find child care solutions that are less than ideal,” Senator Casey said. “Regardless of a family’s income, especially as millions of Americans are have lost wages or jobs due to the pandemic, all children deserve the chance to learn and succeed in a high quality child care setting. That is why it so important that we pass the Rebuilding a Better Child Care Infrastructure Act to provide funding to states so that all families can afford safe and affordable early learning so their children can thrive.”

“When child care eats up families’ budgets, and more and more families don’t make enough to afford it – and even child care workers don’t make enough to care for their own families – we have a broken system,” Brown said. “We have to both help families and child care providers get through this pandemic and we have to build something better on the other side. We can’t go back to ‘business as usual’ when that wasn’t working for a whole lot of people. This legislation would provide important long-term support funding to child care infrastructure and build upon ongoing efforts to improve access, quality, and affordability of child care for American families.”

The Rebuilding a Better Child Care Infrastructure Act would address the current child care gap by providing new federal funding so that states, tribes and territories have the resources necessary to reconstruct a child care infrastructure that better serves all families.

The legislation would:

·               Expand Mandatory Child Care Funding: appropriates an additional $3 billion to the Child Care Entitlement to States (CCES) for fiscal years 2021 through 2025, doubling the current yearly amount of funding.

·               Create Pandemic Child Care Assistance Grants: appropriates $10 billion in additional funding to the CCES for fiscal year 2021 to address child care needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

·               Provide Grants to Improve Child Care Supply, Quality and Affordability: appropriates $15 billion in funding to the CCES for fiscal year 2022 to improve the child care supply, quality and affordability in areas where there are little to no options for affordable child care nearby.

The Rebuilding a Better Child Care Infrastructure Act is endorsed by the National Women’s Law Center, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Child Care Aware of America, Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus Campaign for Children, ZERO TO THREE, Save the Children Action Network and Family Forward.

Andrea Paluso, Executive Director, Family Forward Oregon: “Child care is as necessary an infrastructure to our economy as roads and bridges. Child care work is essential always. It is essential in this crisis, and it will be essential to our country’s economic recovery and long-term stability. Now more than ever, our nation needs big investments and policy solutions, like Rebuilding a Better Child Care Infrastructure Act, that will address these failures and put us on a path not only to recovery, but to rebuilding a stronger and more equitable economy.”

Olivia Golden, Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP): “The lack of public investment led to a child care system that failed even before COVID to meet the needs of children, parents, and child care providers. The pandemic has only exacerbated these circumstances, negatively affecting families and providers of color the most. The Rebuilding a Better Child Care Infrastructure Act would increase funding for child care, get critical relief to child care providers struggling to maintain their businesses, and build child care supply where it is needed most. We applaud Senators Wyden, Casey and Brown for addressing the important and urgent needs of the growing child care crisis and working toward a more equitable child care system.”

Christine James-Brown, President and CEO, Child Welfare League of America (CWLA): “CWLA is pleased to support Senators Wyden, Casey and Brown’s Rebuilding a Better Child Care Infrastructure Act. The impact of the pandemic has demonstrated that child care is vital to our economy and to children and families. We have seen the impact of the lack of child care on essential and frontline workers and on the thousands of families trying to find child care in communities that were already struggling to maintain the family-strengthening services that became even more essential during the pandemic. It is clear we need to step up our efforts to support and then increase child care across this country.”

Myra Jones-Taylor, Chief Policy Officer, ZERO TO THREE: “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a crisis on top of a crisis for child care, threatening to collapse this already fragile system, jeopardizing parents’ abilities to work and stalling the economic recovery. But even before the pandemic, families with young children were scrambling to find and afford high-quality care, paying college-tuition level prices for infant care in some cases. At the same time, early childhood educators, disproportionately women of color, take home poverty-level wages and yet are essential to our economy working. This is why we applaud Senators Wyden, Casey and Brown for introducing the Rebuilding a Better Child Care Infrastructure Act. This bill not only provides key funding to help the child care system survive the current crisis, but also makes critical investments to improve the supply of quality, affordable child care in underserved areas and build a stronger, more equitable child care system on the other side.”

Roy Chrobocinski, Director of Federal Government Relations, Save the Children Action Network: “As COVID-19 continues to exacerbate our nation’s child care crisis, we are confronted with a stark picture of the far-reaching consequences should the child care industry completely collapse. We cannot let that possibility become a reality. That’s why Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) is so pleased to endorse the Rebuilding a Better Child Care Infrastructure Act, and applauds Senator Wyden for his leadership introducing this important piece of legislation with Senators Casey and Brown. Not only would this bill increase the overall level of child care funding to the states, but it would also inject billions of dollars into grants that would invest in child care and, therefore, provide much-needed support to help the industry rebuild in the years to come. The child care industry is a key component to our recovery, and we have to begin treating it as such. This piece of legislation is a good step in the right direction.”

Wyden, Casey and Brown are also co-sponsors of the Child Care is Essential Act, which would provide an additional $50 billion to support the child care sector during the pandemic, as well as the Child Care for Working Families Act, both of which were introduced by Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

A one-page summary of the bill is available here.

A section-by-section summary of the bill is available here.

A copy of the bill text is available here.

A web version of this release is here.