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Murray, Warren, Smith, Gillibrand, Casey Introduce $50 Billion Bill to Address Child Care Crisis

(Washington, D.C.) —Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, led Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Bob Casey (D-PA) in introducing the Child Care is Essential Act, to address the child care crisis exacerbated by coronavirus by creating a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund. The legislation will provide grant funding to child care providers to stabilize the child care sector and support providers to safely reopen and operate.


As businesses begin to reopen and working families need child care, child care providers across the country are struggling to keep the doors open as they operate with significantly reduced capacity and face increased operating costs with limited revenue. Many are even at risk of permanent closure, resulting in the potential loss of up to 4.5 million child care slots across the country. Without federal help, families will struggle even more to find child care—with recent estimates from the National Women’s Law Center showing that it would take at least $9.6 billion per month to keep current child care providers in business.


“We have long had a child care crisis in this country—and it has always hit families of color and working families the hardest. But now, as our economy is rocked by the impact of the coronavirus, our child care sector is struggling to even keep its doors open,” said Senator Murray. “If the federal government doesn’t provide support to help providers remain open and working families afford tuition, we risk losing millions of child care slots across the country and letting families and providers who were already struggling fall further behind. We can’t let that happen—we need to act immediately to ensure that all families have access to child care right now, and in the future.”


"Without emergency relief funding, our child care system is in danger of collapsing," said Senator Warren. "I'm glad to partner with Senators Murray, Smith, Gillibrand, and Representatives Scott and DeLauro to introduce legislation for a $50 billion child care bailout that is critical for families and to our country's recovery."


“As we work to respond and recover from COVID-19, investing in childcare should be a top priority,” said Senator Smith. “Families in Minnesota and across the country were already facing the challenge of finding affordable, high-quality, child care before the pandemic, and if we fail to act now to stabilize this industry, the problem will only get worse. We need to provide childcare to essential workers—like health care sector employees, emergency responders and sanitation workers—and we need to invest in childcare providers for our long-term economic recovery."


“Our nation was facing a child care crisis even before the pandemic hit, with millions of working families struggling to afford high-quality and safe child care,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Now our nation’s child care providers, and parents who rely on them, are facing unprecedented instability and uncertainty. Child care is the linchpin that keeps the wheels of our economy turning, and the Child Care is Essential Act will support providers who are open during the crisis to provide care to the children of essential workers and will ensure that providers can reopen their doors and help parents can get back to work when the pandemic ends. Congress must act to pass it, both for our recovery and for our future.”


Specifically, the Child Care Stabilization Fund would help child care providers and working families by:

  • Covering child care providers’ operating expenses and heightened costs of providing care due to the pandemic;
  • Ensuring that funding gets to providers quickly;
  • Requiring that providers continue to pay their staff;
  • Providing tuition and copayment relief for working families;
  • Promoting health and safety through compliance with public health guidance;
  • Prioritizing providers that serve underserved populations;
  • Ensuring grants are awarded equitably across child care settings; and
  • Conducting oversight through robust reporting requirements.


A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 27, led by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee.


The Child Care is Essential Act is co-sponsored by: Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).


The Child Care is Essential Act is endorsed by more than 80 national organizations, including: Child Care Aware of America, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), First Five Years Fund, American Academy of Pediatrics, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus Campaign for Children, ZERO to Three, National Women’s Law Center, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Center for American Politics (CAP), National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Domestic Workers Alliance, Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), National Association for Family Child Care, National Military Family Association, National Organization for Women (NOW), National Partnership for Women & Families, YWCA USA.


A one-page summary of the Child Care is Essential Act can be found HERE.