COVID-19 is highlighting and exacerbating the deep gaps in our child care infrastructure. These gaps have long existed due to significant underinvestment. As we hear stories about how parents are trying to work while caring for young children, it is clearer than ever that child care providers are the backbone of our economy. If Congress does not act immediately to provide substantial and sustained relief, it will all but guarantee that our child care system is irreparably harmed. And we may find that there is no child care system left once we return to normal.
Congress must act immediately to provide $50 billion in funding for child care to states as part of the third stimulus package. This funding must be flexible enough to address the identified and emerging needs in the child care sector, including (but not limited to):
- Providing training and medical support for child care providers on health and safety practices in response to COVID-19.
- Paying providers to cover ongoing operating costs while they are closed so that their financial security—and the financial security of families, communities, and the educators they employ—is not threatened. This must include centers as well as home-based providers such as family child care homes and family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) caregivers.
- Eliminating copayments or tuition for families during this public health and economic crisis while ensuring that providers are still paid the full amount for every enrolled slot.
- Finding and paying substitute educators where needed and available.
- Purchasing materials for providers that cannot afford or find supplies.