The earlier years of a child’s life are the time of greatest brain development and opportunity. Children’s early experiences build the foundation for their future health and success, and access to quality early childhood education provides lifelong benefits.
Long before the pandemic, though, families struggled to find affordable, quality child care. A 2015 study found that more than 80% of two-child families were paying more for child care than for rent. In 2018, child care for an infant cost more than public college tuition in 30 states and DC. The high cost of child care and lack of early childhood investments leaves many children without quality care during critical years of brain development.
Now with many schools and child care centers closed, families’ options are even more limited and many child care providers are at risk of permanent closure despite their critical role for families and the economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that child care providers are not only essential for the development and education of our next generation, they’re also essential for parents who need to continue working to keep food on the table; essential for healthcare workers, USPS workers, and other workers providing essential services; and essential to ensure businesses can stay open and the economy can recover.
Yesterday, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Rebuilding a Better Child Care Infrastructure Act to address the current child care crisis amid COVID-19 as well as the pre-pandemic shortfalls. This legislation would:
- Create Pandemic Child Care Assistance Grants: provides $10 billion in additional funding for fiscal year 2021 for states to address child care needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Provide Grants to Improve Child Care Supply, Quality, and Affordability: provides $15 billion in funding for fiscal year 2022 for states to improve the child care supply, quality, and affordability in areas where there are little or no options for affordable child care nearby.
- Expand Mandatory Child Care Funding: provides an additional $3 billion to states for fiscal years 2021-2025, doubling the current yearly amount of funding.
High-quality child care is a necessity for families, businesses, and our economy. The Children’s Defense Fund is proud to endorse this legislation to ensure the immediate and long-term funding needed to keep child care providers afloat amid the pandemic and reconstruct a child care infrastructure that will better serve all families.
Find a summary of the bill and the full text here.