04.12.22

ICYMI: Leading Labor Advocates Push for Sen. Murray’s Child Care Plan in Reconciliation Package

***READ: Broad coalition of labor groups stress need to address child care crisis via reconciliation***

  

(Washington, D.C.) – ICYMI, late last week, in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), more than 90 leading labor groups urged the Senate to pass Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, child care plan via reconciliation, which would help working parents get back to work by lowering child care costs, getting families more child care options, and boosting wages for child care workers—all fully paid for by making the wealthiest pay their fair share.

 

“Like President Biden, we believe that budget reconciliation can fix our childcare crisis in a comprehensive manner—where smaller, more incremental approaches will still come up short. There simply isn’t enough federal funding to address the crisis and strengthen the economy,” wrote the groups. “Currently, fewer than 1 in 9 eligible young children are served by the Childcare Development Block Grant, the major federal program to help low-income families afford care, and related federal childcare programs. Reconciliation is the best path forward to securing the sustained, significant long-term investments the system so desperately needs.”

 

The labor groups made clear the need to address the child care crisis to strengthen our economy and allow women—who have disproportionately left the workforce during the pandemic in order to care for children—to go back to work.

 

“Women have yet to recover from labor force losses due to COVID-19 and a lack of structural support for working parents. While nearly half a million more adult men ages 20 and over are in the labor force today than before the pandemic began, 872,000 fewer adult women ages 20 and over were in the labor force in March 2022 compared to February 2020,” noted the groups. “That is why it is so critical to advance the meaningful investments in the Democratic proposal on childcare by Senator Murray. Such investments would lower childcare costs for families by more than $5,200 a year per child.”

 

The groups’ letter follows a HELP Committee hearing on child care and preschool held last month where Democratic and Republican witnesses alike called on Congress to address the nation’s worsening child care crisis through the budget reconciliation process. In the hearing, Senator Murray made clear that the status quo is not working for families who are struggling to find and afford child care or for child care providers who are struggling to recruit and retain talented educators.

 

During the March hearing, Senator Murray noted that: “The reality is that when parents can’t work because of child care, that’s not just a problem for them—it’s one more position a small business can’t fill, it’s one less link in our supply chain moving things along, and ultimately it’s one more strain on our economy as a whole. That’s why Democrats have been putting forward bold solutions on child care. We have a fully paid for plan to bring down costs for families, bring up wages for workers, and give parents across the country more freedom to choose the quality child care options that are right for them.”

 

Full text of the letter can be found HERE and below:

 

April 8, 2022

 

Dear Leader Schumer,

 

Thank you for your leadership during this time of unique challenge and opportunity for our nation. We write to express our appreciation for all that you are doing to lift the issue of childcare and early learning, and to urge you to ensure that access to quality and affordable childcare is included in the upcoming reconciliation package through a long-term and sizeable investment. As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the undeniable connection between access to childcare and a stable workforce that supports a strong economy, as well as the deep inequities of a childcare system that relies on families paying unaffordable sums, early educators being paid poverty-level wages, and too many counties across the country

lacking the workforce or facilities needed to meet childcare demands.

 

In the absence of strong labor law that has historically failed to protect women, particularly women of color, accessible and affordable childcare looms large to keep working families from being pushed into financial insecurity. Moreover, the childcare workforce --nearly all women and disproportionately women of color -- are among the lowest paid workers in the economy, despite making work possible for other families. These inequities cannot be remedied absent significant and sustained public investment through reconciliation.

 

Women have yet to recover from labor force losses due to COVID-19 and a lack of structural support for working parents. While nearly half a million more adult men ages 20 and over are in the labor force today than before the pandemic began, 872,000 fewer adult women ages 20 and over were in the labor force in March 2022 compared to February 2020, according to a National Women’s Law Center analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report released last month. Women of color are disproportionately impacted by the cascading caretaking and work crises. Black and Latina women have higher unemployment rates compared to women overall, according to the Law Center analysis, even as they are more likely than white women to be primary breadwinners for their families. In addition, the lack of federal laws that require paid family or sick leave make it extremely difficult for many to get back to work during a global pandemic.

 

Beyond the labor force challenges, working and middle-class families are facing higher prices across the board. Yet, when it comes to childcare, the cost has been rising faster than inflation for years – and will continue to rise steeply absent public investment. Over the past 30 years, childcare prices have risen more than twice the rate of inflation-faster than the

price of food, housing, and other items. The pandemic has accelerated these trends, with childcare inflation exceeding annual inflation in 2020 by nearly 4 percent. These rising prices squeeze families, crowd out other expenses, and push parents -- especially mothers -- out of the labor force. Without a strong federal investment, prices would continue to rise-by more than 14 percent by 2025 as compared to pre-pandemic prices. That is why it is so critical to advance the meaningful investments in the Democratic proposal on childcare by Senator Murray. Such investments would lower childcare costs for families by more than $5,200 a year per child, according to research by the Center for American Progress. The establishment of universal free pre-kindergarten would save families an average of $8,600 a year per child.

 

In his State of the Union address, President Biden received some of the loudest applause when calling for a congressional childcare plan to sharply cut families' costs and enable women to return to the workplace. Like President Biden, we believe that budget reconciliation can fix our childcare crisis in a comprehensive manner-where smaller, more incremental approaches will still come up short. There simply isn't enough federal funding to address the crisis and strengthen the economy. Currently, fewer than 1 in 9 eligible young children are served by the Childcare Development Block Grant, the major federal program to help low-income families afford care, and related federal childcare programs. Reconciliation is the best path forward to securing the sustained, significant long-term investments the system so desperately needs.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to working together to enact legislation that gets women back to work and helps families cope with rising costs of childcare.

 

Sincerely,

 

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