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White House Highlights Wide Range of Approaches for Child Care Support

News April 19, 2024

On the one-year anniversary of President Biden’s Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers (Care EO), the White House brought together governors, advocates, and business leaders to underscore the important role child care plays not only in supporting working families but in strengthening the economy and fostering economic growth. 

This “Making Care Work” event showcased the many different approaches cabinet-level agencies are taking to provide supportive services, including child care, for workers. Approaches include making funds available for supportive services in their grants and loans where possible, strengthening language in their funding opportunities, and producing key resources for applicants. The White House also called for further actions from employers, governors, and others to expand care and other supports for workers.

Highlights from the Event:

  • The Department of Commerce (DOC) announced it will co-host the first National Child Care Innovation Summit this summer with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. They will bring together key stakeholders to discuss the essential role of child care as economic infrastructure and encourage action by the private sector.
  • The Treasury Department published a fact sheet to answer frequently asked questions about employer-provided “work-life referral services” (such as services that help an employee identify a child care provider), which are generally considered a de minimis fringe benefit and therefore excluded from an employee’s taxable income.

New resources from the Administration:

  • Seven Facts About the Economics of Child Care: This article from the White House Council of Economic Advisers highlights seven reasons why policy interventions are needed to fix our broken child care system:
    • The provision of child care is currently at an inefficiently low level. 
    • The child care business model has been historically unsustainable. 
    • Child care costs have been growing rapidly; wages for child care workers remain low. 
    • Low-income families face the greatest cost burdens. 
    • Investments in quality childcare produce enormous returns for children. 
    • Access to quality, affordable childcare allows parents to remain in the workforce. 
    • Federal funding through the American Rescue Plan has played an important role in stabilizing the child care industry.
  • Advancing Care as a Supportive Service: This White House guide highlights key federal funding streams where supportive services, such as child care, is a required, allowable, or encouraged use of funds. This resource can help stakeholders leverage federal funds to support child care access, and explains which entities are eligible for each funding stream and how funds can specifically be used to support care.
  • Guidance on Supportive Services for Child Care and Long-Term Care: This Department of Labor guidance aims to help agencies, federal funding recipients, employers, and other stakeholders make meaningful investments in child care and long-term care to support workers. It includes best practices as well as example strategies for designing care solutions for workers. This guidance also encourages recipients of federal funds to consider the compensation of the child care workforce to ensure that it is a viable career. 

Highlights From Agencies:

  • The Department of Labor (DOL) will award $65 million in Strengthening Community Colleges grants to 16 community colleges to help expand access to high-quality, equitable training for in-demand industries.
    • Grantee spotlight: Columbus State Community College (CSCC) will partner with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1105 and two other community colleges to expand engineering training, particularly among women, to fill semiconductor manufacturing jobs. They have budgeted project funds for accessible child care for students who are parents.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a new funding opportunity to expand its NSF Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) program, which focuses on technology development and creating pathways to good-paying jobs, including by offering wraparound supports for learners and students. NSF’s Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies (ExLENT) program also allows for some funding to support child care to enable learners to participate.
    • Grantee spotlight: The Central Florida Innovation Engine has budgeted $600,000 to support students and trainees, which will include child care, to be provided in partnership with CareerSource and the Osceola County Early Learning Coalition for Childcare, as well as other wraparound services.
  • The Department of Transportation recently released its Investing in America best practices report with recommendations to state and local transportation agencies to enhance construction workforce diversity. The report recommends providing child care for apprentices to increase participation and providing child care during nontraditional hours to increase the number of women in the construction workforce.
  • The Department of Commerce signed non-binding preliminary memoranda of terms (PMTs) with several applicants for its CHIPS Incentives Program that include commitments to provide child care for workers across proposed facilities. DOC has also published resources to help applicants for its CHIPS and Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) programs support employee access to quality, affordable child care.

Highlights from States:

The White House also pointed to a handful of states that are working to ensure federally-funded projects expand access to care. 

  • Oregon will be expanding investments in the Highway Construction Partnership program, which supports construction apprentices with supportive services, including covering child care costs of up to seven percent of household income (or up to $2,500 per child each month). This includes investing $7.5 million in the new Oregon CHIPS Childcare Infrastructure Fund to expand this program. 
  • Maryland is allocating $24 million of federal funds over six years to support the transportation infrastructure workforce. This initiative will help create good jobs in the transportation sector by increasing access to resources, occupational training, and wraparound services like child care. This work complements recent investments the state has made to improve child care access. 
  • Washington tripled its investment in its Pre-Apprenticeship and Supportive Services (PASS) grant program from 2021-2023 to help women, minorities, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals enroll in Registered Apprenticeship programs, including by providing them with child care and other supportive services. 

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