WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 7027, the Child Care is Essential Act, a bill cosponsored and introduced by Congresswoman Hayes (CT-05). The Child Care is Essential Act would create a $50 billion dollar 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 spoke on the floor in support of the legislation, and delivered the rebuttal to the Republican Motion to Recommit the bill. These remarks can be viewed here.
As businesses begin to re-open and families need child care, many providers remain closed or are operating with significantly reduced capacity. Providers that are able to stay open are struggling to cover increased operating costs with limited revenue and 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.
Since March, almost a quarter of child care workers have lost their jobs. And as many as 2 out of 5 child care providers recently indicated they will go out of business without financial support. 4.5 million child care slots are at risk of completely disappearing. The Commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood has said 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.
“We all talk about the need to re-open the economy. But that can’t happen without the necessary funding to ensure the sustainability of child care providers during this public health crisis and unprecedented economic duress,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “As the pandemic continues to rage through this country parents are feeling a sense of helplessness as child care centers have closed their doors. Our budgets reflect our values, and if we will not prioritize child care as a line item in our relief package, we cannot claim it is a national priority. Today is a big step towards achieving that goal, and helping millions of families keep their children safe and get back to work.”
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-05) 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.