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POTUS, VP, and FLOTUS Hit the Road for Child Care and Preschool in the Build Back Better Act

News October 15, 2021

Congress is currently considering the Build Back Better Act, which includes a sweeping reform proposal to significantly and sustainably expand access to quality child care and preschool in America. The proposal would address crisis-level challenges with child care supply by investing in raising teacher wages and new facilities, while also making early learning options affordable for all families by capping child care costs at 7% of family income and making voluntary preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds free.

Amid many crucial priorities in the Build Back Better Act competing for limited funding, it is notable that President Biden, Vice President Harris, and First Lady Jill Biden all made public appearances in the same week to tout the administration’s commitment to its child care and preschool proposal in particular. 

  • 10/8: Vice President Harris visits the Ben Samuels Children’s Center at Montclair State University in Essex County, NJ
  • 10/13: First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visits the Learning Hub, a Head Start center in Allentown, PA
  • 10/15: President Joe Biden visits the Capitol Child Development Center in Hartford, CT.

The proposed federal investments in child care and pre-K, along with crucial enhancements to existing tax benefits, underscore the Biden administration’s commitment to finding solutions to America’s longstanding child care crisis by addressing widespread challenges with access, affordability, and quality in early learning, while reinforcing the benefits of a strong mixed-delivery system that prioritizes parent choice in determining the type and setting of care that best meets a family’s needs.

President Biden’s Visit to the Capitol Child Development Center in Hartford, CT.

Earlier today, President Biden traveled to Connecticut to visit the Capitol Child Development Center in Hartford, where he touted the administration’s plans for building a strong, stable child care and early learning system through the Build Back Better Act. The president highlighted the immediate economic benefit of ensuring working parents can find and afford quality child care, allowing them work and support their families. “How can we compete in the world if millions of American parents – particularly moms – can’t afford child care to be able to work?”

Additionally, he pointed to the importance of high-quality early learning experiences for children, noting that the United States lags far behind other countries in early education investment: “Any country that out-educates us will out-compete us… Only about 1/2 of 3 and 4 year olds in America are enrolled in high-quality early childhood education. My plan gets us back on track and provides 2 years of high-quality preschool for every child in America.”

“Seeing children and educators at this center is the perfect reminder of what our economy needs to be able to thrive.”

Vice President Kamala Harris‘s Visit to the Ben Samuels Children’s Center at Montclair State University

On Friday, October 8th, Vice President Harris visited the Ben Samuels Children’s Center at Montclair State University to experience early learning and care firsthand. She sat down with child care workers to discuss the current issues facing the early learning industry and emphasized how the Build Back Better Act would address the ever-worsening crisis. “Our nation is strongest when everyone is able to participate,” Harris said. “This is fundamentally what the issue is about when it comes to working parents.”

She went on to point out that, in New Jersey, “the average family spends 15 percent of their income on child care. One of the issues that the President and I have been working on with the support of Congress is to say, ‘No one should spend more than 5 to 7 percent of their income on child care,’ especially when you look at the other obligations that families have, such as putting food on the table and paying rent.”

Vice President Harris was joined by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, as well as Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), who agreed that “Our economic recovery depends on ensuring parents can access the childcare they need to get back to work.”

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s Visit to the Learning Hub in Allentown, PA

On Wednesday, the First Lady visited the Learning Hub, a Head Start center in Allentown, PA to hear from Latino community leaders and early educators on how their area has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the opportunities proposed in the Build Back Better Act.

She specifically touted the administration’s goals to strengthen early childhood education in America, highlighting the importance of Head Start and the need for increased wages for early educators. Accompanied by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Congresswoman Susan Wild (D-PA), the First Lady also made her way through classrooms in the early childhood education center to chat with young learners. 

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