06.23.22

ICYMI: House Democrats Back Murray-Kaine Child Care Plan in Reconciliation

Over half of House Democratic Caucus sends letter urging Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi to include Murray-Kaine child care plan in reconciliation package

 

127 House Members: Murray-Kaine proposal “will provide children and working families with critical support to access quality, affordable child care and give child care providers additional resources they so desperately need to help get our economy back on track.”

  

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Tim Kaine’s (D-VA) revamped child care plan got the backing of 127 House Democrats who urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to include the plan in any reconciliation package. The letter was led Congresswomen Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01).

 

Their child care plan would support the child care workforce, help get parents back to work, and lower child care costs for families by thousands of a year—and is revamped to fit within a streamlined reconciliation package.

 

“As the Senate continues deliberations on a new economic reconciliation package, we write to express support for the recent Murray-Kaine proposal on child care and early learning investments and urge its inclusion in the reconciliation package,” wrote more than half of the House Democratic Caucus in their letter. “This new proposal will provide children and working families with critical support to access quality, affordable child care and give child care providers additional resources they so desperately need to help get our economy back on track. Leaving child care out of an upcoming reconciliation package is unacceptable. Parents, especially women, need this investment to get back to work, and employers need their workers to have reliable child care.”

 

“As parents look to return to the workforce and workers in all industries aim to deal with inflationary price increases, child care funding remains crucial to fostering a strong care and early education system and strengthening our economy,” the House members wrote.

 

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 Murray and Kaine’s 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. 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.

 

Earlier this 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.

 

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

 

Read the House members’ full letter here and below:

 

Dear Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi:

 

As the Senate continues deliberations on a new economic reconciliation package, we write to express support for the recent Murray-Kaine proposal on child care and early learning investments and urge its inclusion in the reconciliation package. This new proposal will provide children and working families with critical support to access quality, affordable child care and give child care providers additional resources they so desperately need to help get our economy back on track. Leaving child care out of an upcoming reconciliation package is unacceptable. Parents, especially women, need this investment to get back to work, and employers need their workers to have reliable child care.

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the child care industry has faced numerous and steep challenges in their work to adequately serve the population most affected by the pandemic. Families were forced to choose between staying home to care for their children or returning to the workforce and relying on inefficient or scarce alternatives. Furthermore, as inflationary pressures increase and families face rising child care prices, this proposal will allow parents, families, and child care workers to offset part of that burden. The funding will allow those parents who have been unable to rejoin the workforce an opportunity to continue their careers, make sure that their children are adequately cared for, and support the existing child care workforce.

 

Supporting the child care workforce is a matter of both economic and racial justice, as the House recognized when it passed a robust child care package in the Build Back Better Act. Data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that caregivers earn an average of just $12.24 per hour. And we know that the inadequate wages are disproportionately harmful to the women, and overwhelmingly women of color, who make up the care workforce. According to The Education Trust, Black child care workers earn an average of 78 cents less per hour than their white counterparts, even when controlling for education level. The investments in the Murray-Kaine proposal are long overdue updates that will provide these workers with better access to fair compensation and recognize the importance of their work.

 

We approve of the balanced approach in the proposal between strengthening existing programs and allowing for innovation. The Murray- Kaine plan will triple resources for the nation’s existing child care assistance program, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). This funding would be available to every state, allowing parents and families across the country to access reliable and effective child care options. According to the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), more than 1 million new children and their families could receive child care assistance to lower their costs through the plan’s CCDBG investment. Additionally, we support the proposal’s dedicated funding for increasing wages for Head Start staff, expanding access to high-quality preschool, expanding the supply of high-quality child care, and improving compensation for the early childhood workforce—priorities supported in the House's Build Back Better Act.

 

We are also particularly supportive of the proposal’s creation of a pilot program that allows some states to test a child care system in which a broader set of low- and middle-income families will not pay more than 7 percent of their income for child care for children under age six. This pilot will incentivize innovation and reform that is desperately needed in the field.

 

As parents look to return to the workforce and workers in all industries aim to deal with inflationary price increases, child care funding remains crucial to fostering a strong care and early education system and strengthening our economy. Thank you for your consideration of our request, we look forward to working with you on this important initiative.

 

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