President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan is expansive and ambitious, a $2 trillion infrastructure package that includes money for roads and bridges, home health care for seniors, measures to fight climate change, and more.
One thing it doesn’t say much about, though, is child care.
But some worry that by the time that second piece comes before Congress, there may be no money — or political will — left for the reforms that are needed to truly fix the problems with America’s child care system.
Those problems include concerns with physical infrastructure, like damaged or unsafe buildings, but include cost and access issues as well. Improving facilities “is incredibly important, and there’s certainly a need there,” Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at nonprofit Child Care Aware of America, told Vox. But “more needs to be done.”
The American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package signed by Biden in March, includes a much-needed $39 billion to help the child care sector recover, but that’s not a long-term solution, experts say. “It helps repair some of the damage of the pandemic, but we’re really playing catch-up,” Cardona said. “It’s going to take bold year-over-year investments” to actually make affordable, accessible child care — and good-paying child care jobs — a reality around the country now and in the future.
But “when we talk about infrastructure,” Cardona said, “it’s really important to note that for child care in particular, it goes beyond facilities improvements.” Building a sustainable child care infrastructure for the future would include making sure workers get a living wage, ensuring high-quality care for all children, and making sure care is accessible and affordable for families, he explained.
The money in the American Jobs Plan is important, Cardona said, but “it’s insufficient to meet the range of needs that exist in this country and that the pandemic has laid bare.”