Center for Law and Social Policy: Murray-Kaine Child Care Reconciliation Plan Would Expand Access to 1M+ Children, Lower Costs and Get Parents Back to Work | The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions

Center for Law and Social Policy: Murray-Kaine Child Care Reconciliation Plan Would Expand Access to 1M+ Children, Lower Costs and Get Parents Back to Work  | The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions

The Century Foundation: “At a time when parents feel more alone than ever, this new proposal makes clear that there are parents, and grandparents, in Congress who have their backs.”

First Five Years Fund: “Sen. Murray and Sen. Kaine [are] taking definitive action to ensure child care is included in the budget reconciliation package, and we call on all Senate Democrats to unite behind this crucial, commonsense economic policy proposal.”

Community Change Action: “Senators Murray and Kaine’s new plan will provide crucial investments we need to lower child care costs for families.”

NAEYC: “[We are] proud to lift up this revised child care proposal—and all who champion its inclusion in reconciliation—because there is an urgent need to act now in lowering child care costs for families.”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released a new analysis on the revamped child care and early education reconciliation proposal championed by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), showing that more than 1 million new children and their families could receive child care assistance to lower their costs through just the historic investment in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in Murray and Kaine’s plan.

CLASP further outlined how the Senators’ proposed investment in pre-K and Head Start—in addition to a historic pilot program to complement CCDBG and further help working parents find and afford child care—would ensure access to affordable child care and early education for numerous additional families “above and beyond” those outlined in their analysis.

“The child care sector is on the brink of collapse and we have to act now to save it—or families across the country will pay the price,” said Senator Murray. “I have spoken to so many moms and parents who had to quit their jobs entirely because they either couldn’t afford child care or they couldn’t find it, and to child care workers who are being paid poverty wages and can’t make ends meet—it’s clear, this is an urgent crisis and it’s putting a huge strain on our entire economy. This proposal will save families in every state thousands of dollars on child care each year, expand their options, and raise wages for hardworking child care workers. The bottom line is that this proposal is about boosting our economy, supporting the child care workforce that cares for and educates our kids every day, getting parents back to work, and lowering costs for families as we fight inflation. I’m fighting to get this done because the painful reality is that this country’s child care crisis will only get worse unless we deliver strong, sustained funding through reconciliation.”

“It’s clear from my conversations with Virginians that our child care system is in critical need of support,” said Senator Kaine. “If we want to build communities and an economy where every family can thrive, we must ensure that parents aren’t locked out of the workforce because they can’t find affordable care for their kids, and that child care workers aren’t forced to quit jobs they love because they can’t pay their bills. Our proposal will provide this crucial sector with the support it needs to make child care much more affordable and accessible and to pay its tireless workers a living wage—a win-win-win for our families, workers, and economic recovery.”

“For decades we have failed children, parents, and early educators by underinvesting in child care,” said Hannah Matthews, deputy executive director for policy at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “The proposed investment would be a crucial step toward building the child care and early education system that children, families, and workers need and deserve. To address the country’s longstanding child care crisis, Congress must work urgently to lower costs for families, expand the supply of quality child care and preschool, and raise wages for the early childhood workforce. The Senate should act swiftly on this proposal to provide immediate help to families and benefit the economy by shoring up the child care sector that is essential to all other work.”

The nation’s child care crisis is worsening each day, at significant cost to families, providers, businesses, and the nation’s economy. Families are unable to find the affordable care they need to go to work, and child care programs cannot attract and retain staff due to poverty-level wages. While the American Rescue Plan provided a critical lifeline for the sector to prevent its total collapse, funding will soon expire, leaving families, workers, and providers in the lurch. Families already face impossibly high child care bills, and a lack of investment in child care could lead to increased waiting lists and even higher costs for families, provider closures, and continued staff turnover due to inadequate wages. Without action, the nation will hit a cliff that will forever impact the child care system, keep parents out of the workforce, and hinder economic growth. Senator Murray and Kaine’s revamped child care proposal would address this crisis by securing robust and sustained funding for child care and preschool through reconciliation.

The streamlined and revamped proposal invests significant resources in the existing child care system to create stability for states and providers, expand the supply of quality child care facilities, and drastically lower child care costs for families across the country: 

A one-pager on Senator Murray and Kaine’s revamped child care proposal can be found HERE.

In addition to CLASP, leading child care and early education and labor groups also voiced their support of the Murray-Kaine child care reconciliation proposal:

“How we care for our children is one of the most fundamental aspects of our society. At a time when parents feel more alone than ever, this new proposal makes clear that there are parents, and grandparents, in Congress who have their backs. The revamped proposal fits into the current reconciliation framework, ensuring that states quickly receive funding to lower costs for families, build out the supply of child care and pre-K, and raise compensation for early educators. It will put the U.S. on the path toward the comprehensive child care and early learning system we need,” said Julie Kashen, Director of Women’s Economic Justice at the Century Foundation. “The status quo is unacceptable. If Congress does nothing, families will continue to experience high and rising child care prices, resulting in even more unaffordable child care. Early educators will continue to be poorly paid and leave the sector, causing more staffing shortages. As a result, more providers will be forced to close down. Families will continue to struggle with this collective crisis, as  parents—especially mothers— are pushed out of the labor market, sacrificing much-needed income and reducing the supply of valued workers for employers. Even before the pandemic, we were failing families and children, but the situation now is more dire than ever. Families cannot wait another day.”

“A huge portion of the nation’s labor force relies on child care just to be able to go to work each day, yet most families can’t afford or even find the care they need,” said Sarah Rittling, Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund. “Thankfully, there is a clear understanding among lawmakers that the success of our economy is inextricably linked with the success of our early learning sector. The only question is whether Congress can secure the level of sustained investment required to begin addressing this crisis. We are grateful to Sen. Murray and Sen. Kaine for their leadership in taking definitive action to ensure child care is included in the budget reconciliation package, and we call on all Senate Democrats to unite behind this crucial, commonsense economic policy proposal.”

“Child care is in desperate need of a substantial and sustainable long-term solution from the federal government. Without the consistency and security that only additional investments from Congress can provide, the challenges will accelerate, leaving children, families, programs and our economy worse off than even before the pandemic. COVID emergency relief funds stabilized the system for a time, but the stories we hear and the data we see each day tell us that the collapse of our child care system is happening now. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is proud to lift up this revised child care proposal—and all who champion its inclusion in reconciliation—because there is an urgent need to act now in lowering child care costs for families while increasing investments in the valuable and essential early childhood workforce,” said Michelle Kang, CEO, NAEYC.

“The COVID pandemic pressure-tested a child care system already in crisis, causing devastating results across the country for providers and families alike. Spikes in operating costs forced many child care providers to close or scale down, while the lack of affordable, high-quality child care pushed hundreds of thousands of women out of the workforce. We applaud Senator Murray for her bold and persistent leadership to secure fair pay and good working conditions for providers – who are disproportionally Black, brown, and immigrant women – and meaningful reform for families who depend on them. Senator Murray’s proposal keeps funding within the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant program serving all states, while still advancing innovation and transformation of the child care field. Parents and our economy need action now - Congress must fix what’s not working in our child care system,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center.

“Our child care system is hanging by a thread, with even longer waitlists in most areas, hiring and retention challenges for child care businesses, and prices that are out of reach for ever more families. These investments through CCDBG will reach families in every community—and providing ongoing funding will stabilize a crucial component of our economy while giving states the flexibility they need to solve the child care crisis,” said Rasheed Malik, Director of Early Childhood Policy at CAP.

“The proposal would invest deeply in our existing early learning programs and provide funding to every state, territory, and tribe in the country. We urge lawmakers to use the reconciliation process to make significant investments in child care and preschool so that we can grow an affordable, accessible, and equitable child care system that values the work of caregivers, promotes children’s healthy development, and supports working families. Without significant new, permanent investments in early care and education in this country, the challenges associated with the child care system will continue,” said Mario Cardona, Chief of Policy and Practice at Child Care Aware of America.

"Our May 9 'Day Without Child Care' action proved the strength of our child care movement and the urgency of investing in our child care system. Parents, child care providers and early learning educators are united for equitable access to affordable child care and better pay and working conditions for the child care sector. Senators Murray and Kaine’s new plan will provide crucial investments we need to lower child care costs for families and retain and attract the child care providers who drive our economy and nurture our youngest children. We will keep fighting for a child care system that works for all of us and values this workforce led by women of color,” said Dorian Warren, Co-President of Community Change Action.

"Businesses owned by Black and Latinx Americans are more often owned by women, who are already primary caregivers - without meaningful investment in childcare, we are putting children, families, and the economic health of our communities at risk," said Chanda Causer, Executive Director of Main Street Alliance. "The lack of child care can be a barrier to starting or expanding a business. Public investment in child care would mean greater stability for small businesses and their employees."

“This proposal solves real problems for families, particularly families with young children. Well before the pandemic, families struggled to find available and affordable child care and pre-K programs. And often the existing programs had huge turnover because of low wages. The pandemic has only made things worse, with families desperate to get their children into high-quality programs that often come at a cost above what many can afford. And the workers—child care providers and pre-K and Head Start educators, the people who help make it possible for families to go to work—need a raise. That’s why it’s vital for a reconciliation package to include funding for child care and early learning, including funding to strengthen the early learning workforce by paying a living wage. It is time to help families get back to work by ensuring children have safe and nurturing programs to attend, and it’s time to make sure early learning educators have a future they can rely on,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

"We depend on our critical child care infrastructure to keep America working, but COVID-19 has pushed early learning to the brink. Countless child care providers have been forced to close their doors. Costs for families are skyrocketing, and wages for child care providers remain inadequate to sustain high quality care. As America gets back to work, we cannot leave children and working parents behind — it is absolutely vital that the Senate include bold, robust investment in child care within the budget reconciliation package,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders.

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