As the COVID-19 health and economic crisis continues, the child care industry is pushed further towards the brink of collapse. Throughout the pandemic, the sector has adhered to public health guidance and ensured frontline personnel have access to care, however as the field moves towards additional reopening, and planning for the fall, additional support is needed to ensure child care programs, both center-based and family child care, outlast the pandemic.
It is becoming increasingly clear that there is no economic recovery without stabilizing the child care industry. Without robust federal investment in child care there will be significant barriers preventing parents from returning to work. Experts predict without federal support nearly 4.5 million child care slots are at the risk of disappearing. Congress must act soon to stabilize the sector to ensure parents have access to care that will allow them to return to work.
Child Care Aware® of America (CCA0A) has heard from hundreds of child care providers on how their businesses have been impacted during the coronavirus crisis and begun compiling their stories. One such provider is Jennie Dalgas who was the owner and director of Wonders Early Learning Center in Corvallis, Oregon. Within weeks of having to shut down, she had to make the difficult choice to permanently close.
In the spring, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748), providing a $3.5 billion increase to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). This funding was helpful, but far from what is needed for the child care industry to outlast the prolonged pandemic. Additionally, less than 6% of the over 670,000 child care businesses received one of the Paycheck Protection Program loans offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA).
More support is needed and CCAoA has been advocating for at least $50 billion in funding to stabilize the child care system. Fortunately, legislators in the House and Senate are listening and have introduced the CCAoA-supported Child Care is Essential Act (S. 3874/H.R. 7027), a strong proposal to invest $50 billion in child care stabilization funds. The House introduced the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act (H.R. 7327) to expand access to quality child care to help parents return to work. Also, Senate Democrats introduced the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCERA), a $430 billion bill to address the national child care and education crisis.
This week, Senate Republicans introduced the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act, which would provide stabilization funds to the child care industry. As Congress prepares its fourth coronavirus relief package, the introduction of this bill shows there is increased bipartisan support to include child care relief funds in a stimulus package. The Back to Work Child Care Grants Act also offers a clear role and support for child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agencies, who, under the bill, can provide resources and technical assistance as well as be designated to disseminate and monitor grants to child care providers. However, the bill includes a provision that requires a review of regulations and requirements. As CCAoA’s analysis has shown, it is not effective to pursue deregulation as a path toward increasing the supply of child care. A global pandemic is also not the time to roll back health and safety regulations. Additionally, the bill falls short of supporting robust funds for the stabilization of the child care industry. It includes no specific amount of money to support the stabilization grants.
Congress is currently negotiating the details of its next relief package, which is why now is the time to make the case to legislators for at least $50 billion in relief for child care. You can do that by using our straightforward toolkit to schedule a conversation with your legislators. Or you can write your Senators an email right now.