Momentum in support of child care relief continues to grow in Congress. Last week, the House of Representatives passed an updated version of the HEROES Act, which includes $57 billion in emergency funding for child care – $50 billion for child care stabilization grants and $7 billion in emergency funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program (CCDBG).
The original version of the HEROES Act, which passed the House in May, only proposed $7 billion for child care. The increase in child care funding proposed in this updated economic relief package is a product of the strong advocacy efforts from the child care community. Congress is listening to our call that there is no economic recovery without child care. Furthermore this legislative action is an example of the growing bicameral and bipartisan agreement that child care stabilization must be included in any relief package going forward.
While we are happy to see the recognition on Capitol Hill that child care is essential, it is critical that relief get into the hands of providers and families quickly. For our recently released fall report, Picking up the Pieces: Building a Better Child Care System Post COVID-19 we collected data that shows the effects of COVID-19 on the child care system. The pandemic’s impact on the child care industry has been devastating, it has shattered a system that was already fragile. Our report shows that as of July, 35% of child care centers and 21% of family child care programs remained closed. Additionally, child care attendance and enrollment remain significantly lower than they were at the start of 2020, with 17 of 32 reported states losing more than 25% of their child care capacity.
Despite the ongoing child care crisis, a relief package has not been passed and signed into law since the CARES Act provided a $3.5 billion increase to CCDBG in March. Congress must send a relief package to the President’s desk to become law as quickly as possible.
The growing support among policymakers for child care reflects increasing support amongst voters. Earlier this year, a national survey from CCAoA and Save the Children Network (SCAN) found nearly nine in ten voters supported specific targeted relief for the child care industry. A new national poll from the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) is more proof of voters’ growing support for child care relief. FFYF’s survey found that nearly 80% of voters say the pandemic has shown how essential it is that we have a high-quality and affordable child care system for all families that need it. 84% of voters believe high-quality, affordable child care for families with young children is essential. We urge Congress to act accordingly.