WASHINGTON – Tonight, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) offered a resolution in the Senate calling for the next COVID-19 relief package to include $25 billion in assistance for the child care industry. Extended closures have forced nearly half of child care providers to close their doors, and those still operating or seeking to reopen will have to operate on financial losses for months to come as a result of new social distancing requirements and low enrollment as parents slowly return to work. The devastating impact of these realities cannot be sustained without direct federal investments that ensure child care providers can keep their doors open to meet the needs of working families.
“America’s economic recovery can only succeed if the child care industry survives this crisis,” said First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “Millions of working parents cannot return to work if half of the nation’s child care supply has disappeared. And considerations about the health and safety of children, as well as those of the teachers who care for them, will mean further increased costs paired with reduced enrollment capacity for providers who already struggled to get by before this crisis. As Congress continues crafting the next federal relief package, we are hopeful that lawmakers will follow the lead of Sen. Ernst, Sen. Loeffler, and the many others on Capitol Hill who have fought to include adequate assistance that meets the needs of child care providers and the families they serve.”
Earlier this month, Sen. Ernst co-led a bipartisan letter with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and nearly two-dozen Senators calling for much-needed relief for the child care industry. Across the Capitol, shortly after House Democrats introduced the HEROES Act with $7 billion in funding for child care, Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) and 25 other members of the House wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to request additional child care relief through a Child Care Stabilization Fund, similar to what was funded for the K-12 system as part of the CARES Act, to provide dedicated assistance that meets the unique needs of child care providers.
In addition to the proven benefits to a child’s learning and healthy development, quality child care is an essential pillar of America’s labor market and economy, making it possible for millions of parents to go to work or attend school each day. The nationwide Coronavirus crisis has hit the child care industry especially hard, causing widespread layoffs and closures as a result of catastrophic drops in enrollment. Extended closures during this time could put a substantial percentage of them out of business permanently, exacerbating the existing realities of child care deserts.
Half of the nation’s child care providers are closed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and say they won’t survive a closure of more than two weeks without significant relief. That loss of child care supply could result in a permanent loss of nearly 4.5 million child care slots.
Child care closures will hit families of color, rural areas, and low-income neighborhoods especially hard, as these communities already had an undersupply of licensed child care. At the same time, child care providers still working or reopening will have to operate on financial losses for months as a result of new social distancing requirements and low enrollment, as parents slowly return to work. The devastating impact of these realities cannot be sustained without direct federal investments that ensure child care providers can keep their doors open to meet the needs of working families. Without question, America’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis will depend on whether child care providers survive.
FFYF and a number of our national partners have written to lawmakers requesting additional relief for the thousands of child care providers and families across the country who are struggling as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed by Congress last month, included a number of provisions offering assistance to individuals, families, and small businesses like child care providers. Delays and procedural hurdles, as well as overwhelming demand, have led lawmakers from both parties to now consider expanding certain provisions of the CARES Act to ensure relief reaches the families and businesses who need it.
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