WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), the nation’s leading federal advocacy organization working to ensure all children have access to high-quality child care and early education, released its Blueprint for Progress, offering Congress and the Biden administration insight into opportunities, big and small, to support early learning and care programs for children from birth through age five. The sweeping resource provides a true blueprint for lawmakers with policy proposals to address access, affordability, and quality in child care and early learning, outlining wide-ranging solutions that fit squarely into the various legislative vehicles Congress might pursue, from infrastructure, to tax reform, to annual funding bills, to budget reconciliation, and more. The Blueprint is online at FFYF.org/Blueprint
“Amid so many deserving and important issues requiring the urgent attention of the 117th Congress and the Biden administration, addressing America’s child care and early learning challenges will deliver immediate and lasting benefits for children, families, and the economy,” said FFYF executive director Sarah Rittling. “The Coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the indispensable role of child care and early learning for every community across the nation. It also exposed the fragility of America’s child care market and the dire need to build a system of care that meets the needs of all families and providers. This resource builds on years of progress and should serve as a blueprint for federal policymakers, with early childhood education policy opportunities, big and small, that can take us from where we are to where America needs to be. It’s a detailed overview of the ways to immediately begin addressing the child care challenges America’s families are facing, most notably those related to access, affordability, and quality. Whether strengthening existing programs or pursuing new and innovative approaches, a range of solutions will be required to address a range of needs now and into the future, and we look forward to working with Democratic and Republican leaders in Washington to help achieve great progress for America’s young children and their families.”
For more than a decade, FFYF has served as a key resource for Democrats and Republicans in Washington, leading efforts to increase the federal investment in policies and programs that are proven to ensure children from birth through age five – particularly those living in poverty – have the strongest start in life possible. This Blueprint builds on the historic progress made in recent years and offers policymakers a range of solutions to address a range of challenges facing America’s working families and child care providers, particularly now, in the midst of an economic crisis that has all but decimated the nation’s child care industry. It also details the short- and long-term economic rationale, along with the political advantages, for prioritizing child care and early learning early in the Biden administration and the 117th Congress, while reinforcing data behind the tremendous need for swift action at the federal level.
Never before has early learning and care been at the center of the national stage like it is today, with ever-growing demand among families and early educators, and strong political support among voters across the political spectrum. Newly-released data from FFYF’S national poll shows that a broad coalition of national and swing state voters overwhelmingly support a number of specific policy proposals related to early learning and care, many of which are featured in FFYF’s Blueprint, including:
- 86% support for making child care more affordable by providing financial support to help working families pay some or all of the cost of quality care. What families pay would be on a sliding scale based on their income. The typical family would pay about $45 per week.
- 88% support for attracting, retaining, and supporting quality early childhood educators and caregivers by paying them better salaries and providing them with opportunities to increase their skills through ongoing training, education, and certification, which would improve the instruction and care that children receive.
- 85% support for making child care more affordable by providing parents with a tax credit to help pay for child care. The credit would be available to all working parents, regardless of how much they pay in federal income taxes.
- 84% support for making preschool more available by providing it to all three- and four-year-olds whose parents want to send them. The programs would have no cost to parents.
- 87% support for increasing the availability of quality child care for families by providing a tax credit to businesses that help their employees access and afford quality child care.
For more information and data from FFYF’s previous polling, visit https://www.ffyf.org/voter-demand
Investing in high-quality child care is a solution that creates upward mobility by ensuring all children have the opportunity to build foundations for long-term success in life. Children from low-income families who receive a high-quality early childhood education are more likely to earn higher wages, live healthier lives, avoid incarceration, raise stronger families, and contribute to society. And access to quality care is critical for working families, offering parents better job stability and overall economic security. Today, however, families are struggling to find and afford high-quality opportunities for their children from birth through age five. Across the country, more than half of people (51%) live in a child care desert where the number of children under five greatly outnumbers available child care slots. Learn more about the importance of increasing access to and the affordability of quality child care at www.ffyf.org/why-it-matters.