Murray, Kaine Lead Senators, House Members, Advocates in Calling for Their Child Care Reconciliation Plan
***WATCH: SENATORS MURRAY, KAINE SPEAK AT RALLY***
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) led Senators, House members, and advocates from across the country in a rally on Capitol Hill to call for their child care and early learning proposal to be included in reconciliation to lower costs for families, get parents back to work, support the child care workforce, and boost our entire economy.
The rally included support from Senator Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Hirono (D-HI), Senator Klobuchar (D-MN), Assistant House Leader Katherine Clark (D-MA), and many others. It also included speakers and support from The Century Foundation, MomsRising, the National Women’s Law Center, the Center for Community Change Action, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Child Care Aware of America, Zero to Three, and more.
“We need child care in reconciliation. We need to lower costs for families as we fight inflation, expand parents’ options so they can get back to work, and support the child care workers caring for and educating our kids each and every day. And Senator Kaine and I have put together a streamlined proposal that will do exactly that. Our plan will lower child care costs for families all across the country by thousands of dollars a year. It will reach more than a million new children and their families. It will raise wages for child care workers and stabilize the sector—keeping providers’ doors open and making more options available to families. And it will strengthen our entire economy,” said Senator Murray. “We need to get this done through reconciliation, because we cannot leave child care behind. We cannot leave kids or families or moms behind. We cannot continue to shortchange our entire economy.”
“There’s millions of people who want to be in the workforce but are on the sidelines instead because they can't find high-quality, affordable childcare. This is the time to make it happen. It’s responsible to do it for the kids, to do it for their parents and the parents' pocketbooks, to do it for our high-quality providers, but especially to do it so that our economy can grow and get the talented people back in the workforce,” said Senator Kaine.
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 Senator Kaine’s revamped child care proposal would address this crisis by securing robust and sustained funding for child care and preschool through reconciliation.
The streamlined and revamped proposal 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:
- Triples the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to increase funds to all states. Tripling funding for the existing system enables states to efficiently provide child care subsidies to more low-income working families and raise child care subsidy payment rates to support provider stability and higher wages for staff. This would provide $72 billion in new funding over 6 years.
- Uses CCDBG to fund Supply and Compensation Grants to all states to expand child care supply, improve facilities, and raise compensation for early childhood educators. Provides dedicated funding within CCDBG to provide grants to open new child care facilities, support increased compensation for early childhood educators, and ensure child care facilities are safe and developmentally appropriate for children. Prioritizes grants for providers in underserved communities, such as rural communities. As part of the $72 billion in new CCDBG funding, a portion would go to provide $18 billion in dedicated funding over 6 years for supply and compensation.
- Pilots a Child Care and Development Expansion program for 6 years. Pilots a program to complement CCDBG, where participating states can offer child care assistance to families earning up to 250 percent of SMI and cap families’ child care expenses at 7 percent of income on a sliding scale for children ages 0-5. Creates a federal-state cost sharing mechanism, where the federal government covers 90 percent of the cost of high-quality child care services for eligible families. The size of the new program is dial-able and would be structured to fit within the final allocation.
- Invests in High-Quality Preschool Grants. Provides grants to states to establish and expand high quality preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds. This would provide $18 billion in new funding over 6 years.
- Invests in raising wages for Head Start teachers. Provides dedicated funding to raise wages for Head Start teachers and staff. This would provide $12 billion in new funding over 6 years.
Senator Murray’s full remarks are below, as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Fatima, for that kind introduction. And thank you so much to everyone here today.
“We have parents here, early childhood educators, Members of Congress, and advocates, all fighting together for child care. For our kids. For families. And for our entire economy.
“And I want to thank Senator Kaine, in particular, for working with me to put together a plan to lower child care costs for families, help get parents back to work, and support the child care workforce.
“He’s been an incredible partner in this fight—and an incredible advocate for kids and parents across the country.
“Because we both know: our child care system has not been working for families, providers, or our economy.
“Right now, families from Seattle to Richmond are stressed.
“They are staying up late at night trying to figure out how on Earth they will find a child care opening and, if they get off a wait list, how they will afford it.
“And of course, if they can’t find and afford child care: parents—and mothers, in particular—are having to leave their jobs, skip promotions, and stay out of the workforce.
“All the while, child care workers are being paid poverty wages, struggling to make ends meet and provide for their own families, and are leaving their jobs for better-paying work at fast food chains and big box stores—who are paying more.
“This just isn’t working.
“It’s hurting our kids—who are missing out on opportunities for quality early learning.
“It’s hurting moms—keeping them out of the workforce.
“It’s hurting our entire economy.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a thousand times more: this is an urgent crisis.
“Last year, Democrats staved off the worst as the pandemic put unimaginable strain on families and child care providers by providing critical resources in the American Rescue Plan to help child care providers safely stay open—and prevent them from closing their doors for good.
“But that funding will soon run out—leaving the child care sector on the brink of the collapse.
“So the answer is simple: we need child care in reconciliation.
“We need to lower costs for families as we fight inflation, expand parents’ options so they can get back to work, and support the child care workers caring for and educating our kids each and every day.
“And Senator Kaine and I have put together a streamlined proposal that will do exactly that.
“Our plan will lower child care costs for families all across the country by thousands of dollars a year.
“It will reach more than a million new children and their families.
“It will raise wages for child care workers and stabilize the sector—keeping providers’ doors open and making more options available to families.
“And it will strengthen our entire economy.
“We need to get this done through reconciliation.
“Because we cannot leave child care behind. We cannot leave kids or families or moms behind. We cannot continue to shortchange our entire economy.
“I’ve been fighting for child care my entire career.
“And I’ll say this: for a long time, I was the only one in the room fighting. Many of my colleagues would brush me off.
“But things have changed—just look at the folks here today fighting alongside me.
“Just look at the families and advocates across the country pushing for child care.
“They understand our child care sector is on the verge of collapse—and they are demanding action.
“So as the Senate works to get a reconciliation bill to President Biden’s desk, our message is clear: we have to fix the broken child care system before it’s too late.
“So I’m really glad to be with everyone here today to make clear that we need child care now—and to fight to pass my child care proposal through reconciliation with Senator Kaine.”
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