WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswoman Hayes introduced the Child Care is Essential Act, to create a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund within the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program to help child care providers recover from the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Congresswoman Hayes was joined by the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Rosa DeLauro, and Chairman Bobby Scott, of the House Education and Labor Committee. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee introduced companion legislation.
As businesses begin to re-open and families need child care, many providers across the country remain closed or are operating with significantly reduced capacity. Providers that are able to stay open are struggling to cover their increased operating costs with limited revenue with many are at risk of permanent closure. Recent estimates from the National Women’s Law Center show that an investment of at least $9.6 billion per month is necessary to keep current childcare providers in business. Yesterday, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood revealed that Connecticut faces the prospect of losing an estimated 45,000 childcare spaces without government intervention. Other estimates predict that this crisis will cause over half of licensed care in the state to disappear.
A Child Care Stabilization Fund would provide grant funding to providers to stabilize the childcare sector and support them to safely reopen. These grants would help providers and families by:
- Ensuring grants to adequately support operating expenses and disbursing funds quickly;
- Requiring that providers continue to pay staff;
- Providing tuition and copayment relief for working families;
- Promoting health and safety through compliance with public health guidance;
- Prioritizing centers that provide care for underserved populations;
- Ensuring grants are awarded equitably; and
- Conducting oversight through robust reporting requirements.
“Childcare providers in Connecticut and around the country are desperate after the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic has left the industry on the brink of total collapse. These are the individuals and businesses that allow parents to return to the workforce with peace of mind, and help our children learn, grow and thrive.” said Congresswoman Hayes. “Providers are trying to safely reopen, while balancing the reality of accumulating rent payments, furloughed workers and mounting debt. The loss of thousands of providers and childcare slots will have lasting consequences for families and the economy in my state. The urgency of this situation demands immediate, and robust federal investment.”
To date, the Congress has provided much needed funding to deal with the crisis. The CARES Act infuses $3.5 billion to the childcare sector through CCDBG and Head Start Programs, and an additional $7 billion was allocated through the House-passed Heroes Act.
Congresswoman Hayes previously joined Congresswoman Clark (MA-5) in calling for a $100 billion investment in the childcare sector following the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy, the House members outlined a proposal providing $50 billion in short-term stabilization funding and an additional $50 billion in long-term recovery funding to support students, families and providers. Text of this letter can be found here.
A one-page summary of the Child Care is Essential Act can be found here.
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Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public-school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.
Currently serving her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.