WASHINGTON – Moments ago, the Senate voted to pass the American Rescue Plan, a sweeping pandemic relief package with $39 billion in child care relief funding, including $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program and $24 billion for a child care stabilization fund. The House previously passed the legislation at the end of February, but will vote again next week after amendments were made by the Senate. Once the bill passes the House, President Biden is expected to sign it into law.
“With today’s vote in the Senate, American families and businesses, including child care providers, are one step closer to receiving the relief they desperately need,” said First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “This relief can’t come soon enough for the countless thousands of early learning facilities across the country that have been hanging on by a thread hoping Congress would deliver enough support to effectively stabilize the child care industry. Unfortunately, the financial realities of this economic crisis were too much to bear for many others who were forced to close their doors for good. We are grateful to our many allies on Capitol Hill who have prioritized the needs of our youngest learners and the child care providers who care for them throughout this pandemic and in this relief package. Now, lawmakers must harness the overwhelming momentum to address America’s longstanding child care and early learning challenges through a meaningful recovery effort that will deliver immediate and lasting benefits for children, families, and the economy.”
In addition to the $39 billion in dedicated relief for child care, the package passed by the Senate today includes $1 billion for Head Start programs and other measures directed at families with young children. See an overview of the elements included to support families with young children and the early learning programs they rely on here.
Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have included dedicated relief for child care in every COVID relief proposal since the beginning of the pandemic. Last fall, the House passed a bipartisan relief package with $50 billion for child care, and the Senate Republicans released a number of proposals with $15 billion for child care, leading Congress to ultimately pass legislation with $10 billion in December to keep child care providers afloat for roughly three months.
Meanwhile, the child care industry has lost roughly 171,000 jobs between February 2020 and December 2020 that have not been recovered, and surveys show that one in four child care centers and one in three family child care homes believe they will have to close permanently if no additional support comes forward. 46% of parents say their current child care situation isn’t sustainable in the long-term.
Beyond stabilizing the child care industry amid the ongoing pandemic and economic crisis, Congress should consider the ways in which it might take steps to strengthen and expand early learning and care opportunities for America’s working families. Earlier this year, FFYF 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.
The First Five Years Fund is the leading bipartisan federal advocacy organization working to ensure all children from birth through age five have equal access to affordable, comprehensive, high-quality care and education to support their healthy development and help them achieve their full potential in school and life. FFYF seeks to expand federal support for all early learning and care opportunities that are high-quality and focused first on serving those children most-at-risk. http://www.ffyf.org