This week, Congress officially approved both federal funding for the remainder of FY2021 and COVID-19 relief, providing support to child care and other early learning programs.
Funding for FY21 included:
- $5.911 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) – an $85 million increase from FY 2020; and
- $10.748 billion for Head Start/Early Head Start – a $135 million increase from FY2020.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 combined full-year funding with relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The relief funding included $10 billion dedicated to child care, $250 million in support for Head Start, $284 billion in loans for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, $166 billion in direct payment checks, and an extension of unemployment benefits.
In response, Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., CEO of Child Care Aware® of America—the nation’s leading voice for child care—released the following statement:
We are grateful that child care was one of the industries to receive targeted COVID-19 relief in the package. This critical funding will help providers address the financial burdens associated with increased operating costs and decreased enrollment during the pandemic. However, $10 billion is far from what the child care system needs to survive the pandemic. This will only provide short-term relief on the long road to recovery for child care.
In the months since the CARES Act, it has been encouraging to see bipartisan support for child care in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. We are grateful to the thousands of advocates who contacted their Members of Congress and shared their stories during this unprecedented time. They demanded support for child care and It is because of this advocacy that child care became a bipartisan priority for relief.
However, our work is not done. $10 billion is not sufficient to save child care and put the industry on the path to recovery. Additional funding for child care will be needed from the next Congress in the new year. With the help of parents, child care providers and other advocates across the country, we will continue to urge Congress to provide additional relief to ensure there is still a child care system to support families and communities as we emerge from the pandemic.
In addition, the increased funding for FY2021 will support children and families in accessing high-quality child care and early learning. While the increase is short of what CCAoA requested for CCDBG, we are grateful to see support for CCDBG for yet another year.
Despite consistent increases in investment to CCDBG over the past three fiscal years, the child care system continues to be severely underfunded and in a crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Even before COVID-19, CCDBG was only serving a small portion of eligible families.
Accessibility and affordability have long been significant problems for the child care system. This increase in funding means families can access child care and know their child is in a safe, high-quality environment and providers can access resources and professional development. The additional funding for CCDBG is welcomed and needed to support the foundation of the child care system, and the emergency stabilization funding will continue to help child care get through the pandemic.