Posted on July 29, 2020

(Washington, D.C.) The House of Representatives today passed two historic measures to stabilize the nation’s child care industry as it faces mass layoffs, closures, and health risks in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Child Care Is Essential Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act together provide both the immediate relief needed to keep our nation’s child care system afloat during this public health and economic crisis and advance solutions that would help build our system back better. The Child Care is Essential Act provides $50 billion to states to provide stabilization grants to cover providers’ operating costs so they can stay in business and help alleviate cost burdens for families struggling to afford care.

The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act invests $10 billion in child care infrastructure, provides additional funding to states for child care over the next several years, and provides other important benefits to help low-income families in need of child care but unable to afford it, including by making the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable. Together, the two measures would represent the largest investment in the child care system of the United States since World War II.

Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, applauded the House’s vote:

“Today’s vote is a historic step towards securing the long-term future of child care providers, working families, and the women left most exposed to this pandemic. Women and disproportionately women of color, and immigrant women are on the frontlines of the child care crisis – as providers making poverty-wages, and as parents being forced out of the workforce by a collapsing child care system. We can no longer take for granted the role of this women-led industry as the foundation for our entire economy—a fact all-too-clear to working parents brought to the brink by this historic crisis. Majority Leader McConnell must end his brutal stonewalling of working mothers and bring this bill to a Senate vote as fast as possible. We thank Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Scott, Chairman Neal, Representative DeLauro, and Representative Lowey for their continued leadership in the fight for accessible, affordable, high-quality child care for every family and higher compensation and supports for the caregivers doing this essential work.”

One in four child care workers lost their jobs since March, and two out of every five child care providers surveyed expect their programs to close permanently–including half of those owned by people of color–according to a survey of more than 5,000 providers by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The cost of this economic devastation will fall hardest on the women of color who lead this industry and the working parents and businesses which rely on their labor.

Congress has enacted no targeted federal funds for the child care industry since the passage of the CARES Act in May, and the $3.5 billion provided by that measure falls far short of the at least $9.6 billion needed each month for the duration of this crisis to keep our child care system from collapsing child care, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center and CLASP. The HEALS Act (introduced by the Senate majority this week) would only provide an additional $15 billion—or just enough to stabilize child care providers for less than two months.

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