States have never had this much money for child care. Could this be a turning point for the industry?

By CCAoA on May 24, 2021

The 19th

When it was passed in March, President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan included the single largest allocation for child care in the nation’s history: $39 billion. That’s more money than the United States has spent on child care in the past five years combined.

Combined with the billions in child care aid already included in earlier stimulus packages, states and tribes are looking at a degree of funding that could transform child care industries that have been neglected for decades, but they’ll have to do it with small departments and outdated systems. They will also have to focus on reaching people who have never qualified or been helped by child care dollars, a particular challenge that is beyond the scope of what agencies have done in the past. 

“It is more money than the states have ever received for child care — multiples more than they’ve ever received before — and it is a big undertaking, especially if you are thinking about reaching more children, more families, more providers who may not have a relationship with the states at all,” said Mario Cardona, the chief of policy and practice at Child Care Aware, a national child care advocacy organization

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Investments in child care facilities are critical to building a more equitable system of care

By Mario Cardona on May 14, 2021

The Hechinger Report

A little more than a month ago, President Biden announced his American Jobs Plan, which includes $25 billion to invest in facilities upgrades in child care settings and to build the supply of infant and toddler care. The plan also includes investments to replace all lead pipes and service lines in drinking water systems to ensure no child is at risk of exposure to lead. When combined with investments in making child care more affordable for families and supporting compensation for the child care workforce, these investments could have a transformative impact on the lives of children, families and providers.

Read the full op-ed.

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One key to getting women back to work post-pandemic: Childcare

By CCAoA on May 06, 2021

Reuters

The number of licensed childcare providers was 13% lower in December than it was a year earlier, according to the most recent figures available from Child Care Aware of America, a national organization that advocates for broader access to quality childcare.

"Once parents start going back to work, particularly mothers who are going to be re-entering the workforce, will there be enough supply of care to meet the needs of families?" said Mario Cardona, chief of policy and practice for Child Care Aware of America.

Read the full article.

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America can't afford the cost of inaction on child care

By Mario Cardona on April 30, 2021

The Hill

The pandemic and economic downturn of the past year thrust America's child care crisis into the spotlight, providing an unprecedented opportunity for lawmakers not just to stabilize the child care system, but also to dramatically improve the lives of children, families and caregivers.   

Now, as the Biden administration and Congress move swiftly to advance ambitious funding measures, we find ourselves at a crossroads.  

Read the full op-ed.

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President Biden’s proposal could save some families nearly $15,000 a year on child care

By CCAoA on April 28, 2021

WTSP (CBS/Tampa)

Child care is now more expensive than the cost of college tuition in roughly half the country.

That’s one of the statistics Mario Cardona usually leads off with when talking about the financial challenges facing some working parents when it comes to finding high-quality care for their children.

Cardona is the chief of policy and practice as Child Care Aware America, a nonprofit focused on getting families access to child care.

He says finding affordable and convenient child care was a struggle for families prior to the pandemic, and COVID-19 only worsened it.

"Childcare is the highest household expense," Cardona said. "It outstrips the amount of money you spend on groceries, utilities, mortgage or rent payments and so it’s a significant issue — and if you’re a single-parent household it’s untenable."

Wednesday night, during his first joint address to Congress, President Biden laid out his desire to get passed a $1.8 trillion spending and tax credit plan which includes $225 billion over 10 years to cover all child care costs for low-income families, while most others would pay no more than 7 percent of their annual income.

The average family could save $14,800 a year on child care under the plan, according to the Biden administration.

"That will go a long way in giving families the breathing room they need," Cardona said. "We know that childcare is essential in helping parents get to work and helping mothers, in particular, and so if you care about the economy then you care about childcare."

Read and watch the full story.

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Our second COVID summer: Finding care and enrichment opportunities for your school-age child

By Lynette Fraga, Ph.D. on April 23, 2021

Afterschool Snack (blog of the Afterschool Alliance)

By Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., CEO of Child Care Aware® of America, and Mindy Bennett, Deputy Chief of Membership & Programs at Child Care Aware® of America

It is tough to imagine a summer for our school-age children as so many of us are grappling with decisions about their current school options in an ongoing pandemic. However, as we are gaining hope in vaccine access and safe returns to in-person schooling, it must be said that summer is right around the corner, and it is not too soon to start planning how your school-age child will spend their days.  

While your need for child care may be year-round, summertime offers special opportunities as well as challenges. Summer child care arrangements can help your child develop responsibility and independence while also providing enriching hands-on learning experiences. This is especially important for children that have been experiencing virtual schooling for the past year.  

Read the full blog post.

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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.

Watch the video.

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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.”

Read the full article.

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