This was an extraordinary week for children and their families and we are so grateful for the leaders in Congress who made it so.
How exciting it was to work towards and witness a bi-partisan agreement that included the single largest increase in child care funding in history—a $2.37 billion increase in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in the omnibus spending bill. The bill also included a $610 million increase for Head Start, and new funding for other key early learning and after-school programs.
We are also grateful for the advocates in every state who made sure that their Congressional delegation understood that child care deserves to be a priority because it is a basic support for families. Child care allows mothers to work and support their families, young children to have the early learning experiences they need to succeed, and older children to be in safe and nurturing environments after school.
State advocates shared facts, wrote letters and emails, made phone calls, and did so much more. They signed petitions urging their Senators and Representatives to endorse the Child Care for Working Families Act and then came to Washington with the National Association for the Education of Young Children D.C. to deliver more than 43,000 of those petitions. And Congress responded with almost a $3 billion down payment on this comprehensive bill.
The next step is for states to use this opportunity to ensure that more families get child care assistance, that more children are in safe, nurturing care, that providers caring for children are paid a living wage, and that child care opportunities are available to parents wherever they live and whenever they work.
This is just the start. Even more funding will be needed to fully address the significant shortages of affordable, high-quality care in communities across the country. But today, hats off to the lawmakers who made this child care investment possible and to the advocates around the country who worked tirelessly on behalf of children and families.