Lawmakers Urge Congress to Extend Child Care Funding
WASHINGTON — With just days left to pass a short-term funding bill, a group of lawmakers urged their colleagues on Wednesday to ensure an extension of federal child care funding, due to expire at the end of the month, is part of any spending deal they reach.
The vehicle for the extension, the Child Care Stabilization Act, was introduced by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Wednesday morning.
A companion bill was introduced in the House by Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Bobby Scott, D-Va., Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., and Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y.
“Ask any parent, any provider or any business in just about any part of this country and they will tell you, we have a child care crisis in America, and that crisis could soon go from bad to worse as essential relief for the sector expires at the end of this month,” Murray said during a press conference outside the Capitol.
During the pandemic, Congress provided $24 billion in emergency support to prevent child care facilities from closing up shop and families from losing their child care spots.
That aid, Murray and others said, kept 220,000 child care providers afloat and saved child care slots for up to 10 million kids nationwide.
The Child Care Stabilization Act would provide $16 billion in mandatory funding each year for the next five years to continue the program.
“We are here today to sound the alarm and put forward a commonsense solution,” Murray said.
“We invest in roads to make sure people can get to work. We have to invest in child care, too,” she said, saying the alternative would be forcing parents to pay more for any child care they could find or forcing them to leave their jobs to take care of their kids.
She estimated that such an outcome would cost American families some $9 billion in earnings and the nation more than $10 billion in economic activity.
“There’s just no reason to let that happen,” Murray said.
“In the richest country in the history of the world, we can and we must make sure that every kid in America has access to high-quality, affordable child care,” he said. “If we can afford to spend over $1 trillion on tax breaks for the top 1% and large corporations making record-breaking profits, we can afford to provide working-class families with the child care they desperately need.”
A recent analysis from The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank headquartered in New York, said that if Congress does not provide additional funding for the nation’s child care sector, more than 70,000 child care programs — one-third of those supported by stabilization funding — could close, causing approximately 3.2 million children to lose their child care spots and jeopardizing jobs for 232,000 child care workers.
The economic impact Murray described was based on the foundation’s report.
The companion bills currently have 35 co-sponsors in the Senate and 78 co-sponsors in the House.
The Child Care Stabilization Act has also been endorsed by nearly two dozen organizations, including the National Women’s Law Center, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Children’s Defense Fund, Save the Children, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association for Family Child Care, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Prevent Child Abuse America and the United Parent Leaders Action Network.