07.14.22

ICYMI: 85 Leading National Organizations Call for Child Care Investments in Reconciliation

Leading Advocacy Orgs: “We write to underscore the urgency and necessity of passing a reconciliation package that includes funding for affordable, quality child care and early learning, to lower costs for families and raise wages for providers.”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – ICYMI, this week, 85 leading national organizations sent a letter calling on Congress to address the child care crisis and include robust funding for child care in the reconciliation package, backing efforts spearheaded by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).

 

“We write to underscore the urgency and necessity of passing a reconciliation package that includes funding for affordable, quality child care and early learning, to lower costs for families and raise wages for providers,” wrote the coalition. “These investments support women, families, and the economy overall and cannot be overlooked nor left behind. Without immediate Congressional action to provide additional federal investments in child care and early learning, this dire situation is likely to worsen as states and programs realize that additional support is not forthcoming, and current federal relief funding is set to run out in 2024.

 

“Congress can and must act, with solutions that are available and on the table as part of Senator Murray and Senator Kaine’s streamlined early learning proposal.”

 

The nation’s child care crisis is worsening each day, at significant cost to families, providers, businesses, and the nation’s economy. Families are unable to find the affordable care they need to go to work, and child care programs cannot attract and retain staff due to poverty-level wages. While the American Rescue Plan provided a critical lifeline for the sector to prevent its total collapse, funding will soon expire, leaving families, workers, and providers in the lurch. Families already face impossibly high child care bills, and a lack of investment in child care could lead to increased waiting lists and even higher costs for families, provider closures, and continued staff turnover due to inadequate wages. Without action, the nation will hit a cliff that will forever impact the child care system, keep parents out of the workforce, and hinder economic growth.

 

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Tim Kaine’s (D-VA) revamped child care proposal would address the worsening child care crisis by securing robust and sustained funding for child care and preschool through reconciliation. The plan invests significant resources in the existing child care system to create stability for states and providers, expand the supply of quality child care facilities, and drastically lower child care costs for families across the country. Further, it would help get parents back to work and strengthen our economy. One recent analysis shows the Murray-Kaine plan could allow more than 1 million new children and their families to receive child care assistance to lower their costs.

 

Last month, Senators Murray and Kaine led colleagues in the Senate, House members, and leading child care and early education advocates—who have hailed the plan—in a rally calling for their plan to be included in reconciliation. More than half of the House Democratic Caucus also urged Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to include the Murray-Kaine plan in reconciliation.

 

Read a one-pager on the Murray-Kaine child care plan here.

 

Read the coalition’s full letter here and below:

 

Dear Members of Congress,

 

Child care and early learning are foundational supports for families and the American economy that have been under-resourced for far too long and nearly decimated by the pandemic. We write to underscore the urgency and necessity of passing a reconciliation package that includes funding for affordable, quality child care and early learning, to lower costs for families and raise wages for providers. These investments support women, families, and the economy overall and cannot be overlooked nor left behind.

 

Through federal relief dollars including those in CARES and the American Rescue Plan Act, Congress saved the child care system from complete freefall. These supports have temporarily staved off the worst of massive program closures, but the depths of the challenges are such that the early childhood workforce continues to face deep uncertainty and staffing shortfalls that are making child care harder for parents to find and afford.

 

Indeed, millions of parents, especially mothers and women of color, have been pushed out of the labor force. The reality is that child care is the workforce behind the workforce—it is the sector that makes work possible for others. Yet providers are unable to recruit and retain early educators, disproportionately women of color, without the investments that allow them to raise wages for a skilled, competent, and valuable workforce that has risked life and health for poverty wages. Parents cannot find, nevermind afford, care for their children; studies suggest that up to two-thirds of programs in some states currently have waitlists.

 

Without immediate Congressional action to provide additional federal investments in child care and early learning, this dire situation is likely to worsen as states and programs realize that additional support is not forthcoming, and current federal relief funding is set to run out in 2024. In fact, 75% of child care providers say that the end of stabilization grants will be devastating to their programs. If left unaddressed, states will be facing an estimated $48 billion funding cliff, with New York alone facing a $2.3 billion cliff, which will have disastrous consequences for working families and the child care programs they rely on. Depriving the early education system of the funding it relies on to function will result in higher prices and longer waitlists for families, while lower wages push more child care professionals out of the field. And while 2024 looms as a deadline by which states will face a $48 billion funding cliff, the impacts will in fact be felt starting now, continuing through 2024, and beyond.

 

Congress can and must act, with solutions that are available and on the table as part of Senator Murray and Senator Kaine’s streamlined early learning proposal. The proposal builds off of our existing primary federal child care program—the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program—as well as Head Start. Currently, CCDBG only serves 15% of income-eligible families and limitations in the annual appropriations process will not provide adequate funding to mitigate the funding cliff in 2024. However, by investing in CCDBG through reconciliation, the funding would be quickly accessible to child care programs and families in all states, allowing communities to support the early learning workforce and lower child care costs for families facing the challenge of rising costs in multiple areas of their lives.

 

The pandemic did not create this child care crisis, but it exacerbated it, making plain the sector’s fragility as well as the vital role that it plays in our economy. The need for investments in child care has never been clearer: for families, our economy, and children who too will suffer from the lack of access to stable, high-quality early childhood education.

 

We—parents, educators, programs, organizations, and allies—urge you to hammer out a reconciliation deal that includes a substantial investment in child care and addresses the parallel urgent workforce needs in Head Start. It is critical that Congress provide the funding necessary to mitigate the impact of the expiration of relief funding in the near future—the effects of which will be felt immediately—and invest in strengthening our existing child care infrastructure to begin building an early learning system that meets the needs of working families and our economy today and in the future. Congress must make the choice to invest in families, women, children, care, and education, and to value the workforce that performs this essential work.

 

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