The child care industry collapsed during COVID-19, so Biden's giving it $39B from the stimulus

By CCAoA on April 15, 2021

USA Today

The Biden administration on Thursday will release nearly $40 billion of the administration's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package to confront what President Joe Biden has called an “acute, immediate child care crisis,” distributing money to help providers pay their rent and rehire workers made jobless by the pandemic, as well as make child care more affordable for low-income families.

Half of providers remained closed in July, despite funding from small business loans and stimulus packages passed by Congress, according to the Child Care Aware of America, a research and advocacy group. That number dropped to 13% by December 2020, but NAEYC found that 2 in 5 providers reported taking on debt, including using personal credit cards or reducing costs through layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts.

Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America, said while $39 billion injection will help stabilize the industry, the Biden administration has an opportunity to transform the child care system with more funding through the president's infrastructure proposal.

"Child care is just as important as roads and bridges. It enables parents to work and keeps our economy moving," Cardona said. "As the Biden Administration releases their next plan, to support 'human infrastructure' or the 'caregiving economy,' we will be looking for significant increased investment in child care."

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Working families face a childcare crisis. This panel will explain how it affects us all

By CCAoA on April 09, 2021

Miami Herald Virtual Panel Discussion

Even before the pandemic era, working families often struggled to find safe, affordable and convenient childcare. COVID-19 has worsened the situation. Even as South Florida vaccinates and emerges from restrictions, childcare remains a significant obstacle to upward mobility.

Mario Cardona, CCAoA's Chief of Policy and Practice, participated in this virtual panel discussion on the problem and potential solutions.

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Knoxville child care owners reflect on a year in a pandemic

By CCAoA on April 05, 2021

Knoxville News-Sentinel

The pandemic meant a lot of child care agencies closed, and some of those have remained closed.

Child Care Aware of America compared data between December 2019 and July 2020 and found that 35% of child care centers remained closed and 21% of family child care programs were closed.

Since presenting those findings, the organization's senior data analyst Kristina Haynie analyzed December 2020 data. She said the supply of child care is recovering from the initial shock of COVID-19, but attendance data is still concerning.

Child care comes with a trifold challenge: how do you provide high-quality care, while keeping it affordable and while paying fair wages to employees?

Haynie said providers want to "be on the cutting edge of child development" but are often short on time or money.

The latest COVID-19 relief package from Congress could help. The American Rescue Plan provides $39 billion in child care relief funding.

It includes $24 billion for financially stressed child care providers for personal protective equipment, rent and mortgage payments, labor costs and other expenses. Another $15 billion would help subsidize child care costs for eligible families, helping an estimated 875,000 children, according to USA TODAY.

Haynie said the money will lay the foundation for a more equitable system that provides "quality care that all children deserve."

Haynie, the data analyst, said a one-size-fits-all approach won't work since some communities need more after-hours care or some employees might want on-site care for the typical working day. But businesses should partner with their local child care resource and referrals agency, like Bowlin's, to better understand what their community needs.

Haynie said businesses should also ask their employees what they need through surveys or other means. Some folks might love their current child care situation but would appreciate extra financial support to pay fees.

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How Biden’s infrastructure plan could leave child care behind

By CCAoA on April 03, 2021

Vox

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.”

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Mass Exodus: Pandemic Forces Women Out of the Workforce

By CCAoA on April 02, 2021

Tokyo Business Today

As women around the world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8, a startling reality sunk in. 47 million women – the equivalent of the entire country of Spain – have dropped out of the labor force due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the United Nations.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that in January 275,000 women left the labor force compared to 71,000 men.

One primary solution is child care.

That is why President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill is putting $50 billion into the child care sector.

Child care providers will get about $40 billion for operating expenses and tuition assistance for the children of essential workers, and families will get about $8 billion from a temporary expansion of tax breaks subsidizing dependent care. The goal is to help centers handle revenue shortfalls and increased costs while making it easier for mothers in particular, to return to work as the economy reopens.

“The law, in addition to $10 billion in assistance from December legislation, represents the largest one-time U.S. investment in child care,” said Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America, an advocacy group.

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Child Care in Crisis: Can Biden’s Plan Save It?

By CCAoA on March 31, 2021

New York Times

These stories, from four different parts of the United States, aren’t isolated pockets of struggle. They are emblematic of a larger problem that has been widely acknowledged by people from the Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell to Amy Schumer: America’s child-care industry is in crisis.

Initially, as parents pulled their children out of child-care centers in the first months of the pandemic, revenue plummeted. Then, as child-care centers opened back up, the burden of safety for the community’s children — including, in many cases, schoolchildren whose parents couldn’t help them with remote learning — fell on providers that were already struggling to survive on thin budgets.

By summer, 50 percent of providers were still closed, according to a research and advocacy group, Child Care Aware of America. That number fell to 13 percent by December but those that have opened are debt-ridden, pinching pennies here and there, and short-staffed to keep costs down.

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COVID-19 shattered childcare. Experts want to fix it

By CCAoA on March 28, 2021

Miami Herald

Mario Cardona knows child care is critical. He’s currently chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America, a nonprofit that helps families access care. In his former role as a congressional staffer, he wrote and led staff negotiations to pass the Child Care & Development Block Grant Act of 2014, which comprehensively updated the quality and standards in federally subsidized childcare for the first time in years. We checked in with Cardona and asked him to take the pulse of child care in the U.S. today.

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If Not Now, When? It’s Time to Transform Child Care

By CCAoA on March 22, 2021

Morning Consult

By Mario Cardona

President Joe Biden has signed the American Rescue Plan into law, granting $40 billion in child care funding and providing much-needed relief to providers, parents and children alike.

This child care relief is notable for three reasons: First, it is the largest investment this country has ever made in child care, and is roughly 20 times larger than the child care relief provided in President Barack Obama’s stimulus measure. Second, despite the investment’s size, it has been uncontroversial and has not attracted the types of criticism directed at other relief policies. Third, because it is a one-time investment, it will not be sufficient to advance longer-term transformation in the system of child care.

Congress and the administration will need to build on this investment so that communities can make permanent changes to ensure all families have access to affordable, high-quality child care.

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Billions of Covid relief dollars are going to child care. Here’s why advocates say more needs to be done to fix the crisis

By CCAoA on March 18, 2021

CNBC.com

There already was a child-care crisis in America. Then Covid hit.

Child-care centers shut down. Working parents lost care and child-care workers found themselves without jobs. Parents, namely mothers, left jobs or reduced hours to fill the gap.

“Before the pandemic, the U.S. child-care system was in trouble,” said Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America, an advocacy group that works with local and state child-care resource and referral agencies.

“Layer Covid on top of that and the system, as it stands, really ceases to work well for anybody.”

“The system has to rely on a patchwork of funding streams that place a high burden on families to pay the price of care,” Cardona said.

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Latest Round of Covid Relief Provides Nearly $50 Billion for Child Care Sector

By CCAoA on March 18, 2021

Cheddar

Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware of America and former senior policy advisor for the Obama Administration, discusses how the latest round of coronavirus relief impacts the child care sector and whether the U.S. has done enough to help.

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