Child Care and Pre-K in the Build Back Better Act: A Look at the Legislative Text
As part of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, Congress is considering the Build Back Better Act with proposals aimed at creating jobs, providing tax relief to the middle-class, and lowering costs for working families. Lawmakers will use the budget reconciliation process to bypass a procedural hurdle in the Senate and pass the bill with a simple majority. In August, both chambers of Congress adopted a concurrent resolution on the FY2022 budget providing instructions and establishing overall funding levels to guide Congressional committees as they craft their individual portions of the budget reconciliation package.
On November 19, 2021, the House passed H.R. 5376, and on December 11, 2021, the Senate House Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and Senate Finance Committee released their proposed texts, which included amendments to the child care and early learning provisions passed by the House.
The child care and preschool provisions in the Senate HELP text would provide federal funding to:
- Make child care affordable for all families with children from birth through age 5 using a sliding scale for copayments in which families earning less than 75% of state median income (SMI) pay nothing and a limit of 7% of family income for families earning between 150 and 250% SMI.
- $100 billion during the first 3 years ($24 billion in FY2022, $34 billion in FY2023, and $42 billion in FY2024) and such sums as may be necessary in FY2025-FY2027.
- $4.75 billion in FY2022 to remain available until September 30, 2027 for Birth through Five Child Care and Early Learning Grants to be awarded to localities in states that have not received payments under the entitlement program.
- $14.25 billion in FY2022 to remain available until September 30, 2027 to award grants to Head Start agencies in states that have not received payments under the entitlement program to carry out the purposes of the Head Start Act.
- Guarantee access to high-quality, free, inclusive, and mixed-delivery preschool services available to all three- and four-year-old children on a voluntary basis.
- $4 billion in FY2022, $6 billion in FY 2023, $8 billion in FY2024, and such sums as may be necessary in FY2025-2027
- $9.5 billion in FY2022 to remain available until September 30, 2027 for grants to localities in states that have not received payments under the universal preschool program.
- $9.5 billion in FY2022 to remain available until September 30, 2027 to award grants to Head Start agencies in states that have not received payments under the universal preschool program to carry out the purposes of the Head Start Act.
- $2.5 billion annually for FY2022-2027 to improve compensation for Head Start staff.
The tax-related proposals in the Senate Finance text include extending American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) changes to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) that make the CTC fully refundable, increase the amount of the credit, and allow for advance monthly payments.
The table below summarizes the child care and early learning provisions included in the Senate HELP and Finance Committees’ proposed Build Back Better Act. Differences with the Senate committee text and the version of the Build Back Better Act passed by the House are noted using strikethrough and blue text for new provisions.