WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Late Sunday night, the House and Senate passed their latest COVID-19 economic relief package, which includes $10 billion in emergency funding for the all child care providers through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, regardless of whether they have subsidy contracts with the state. The measure ensures equitable access by providers, and an expansion of the allowable uses of funds to include operating expenses and fixed costs so providers may use them for their most pressing needs, which may vary across states, localities and companies.
"Through the passage of this bill, members of Congress have demonstrated strong bipartisan support for the child care sector, and a clear recognition of the essential role child care providers play in our nation's economic recovery," said Jo Kirchner, Board Co-Chair of the Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC) and CEO of Primrose Schools.
"ECEC is incredibly grateful for the inclusion of our industry in this year-end package. Like many others, our industry has suffered immensely over the past nine months. This, however, is only the beginning of what will be a long and hard recovery, for families and providers alike," said Radha Mohan, Executive Director of ECEC. "Child care providers have always operated on razor-thin margins, and the pandemic has increased operating costs by an average of 47% across the sector. This $10 billion is only a down payment to keep the industry afloat for a few months, until members are able to come together once again to pass another round of much-needed relief."
"From grants to cover operational costs, to incentive pay for teachers, some states have undertaken creative solutions with limited resources to save their child care industry," said Jacob Stewart, Director of State Government Relations at ECEC. "With this year-end package, Congress is sending a clear message to all states that child care is crucial to rebuilding our economy."
"This is a lifeline to working parents who depend on child care providers large and small to help their children learn and grow," said Tom Wyatt, CEO of KinderCare Education. "As we look ahead to 2021, America's families will need quality child care more than ever. Alongside the COVID-19 vaccine, this package is a helping hand for us to support communities and families when they need us the most."
With widespread vaccine distribution on the horizon, the nation will continue to rebuild and prepare for a full return of workers. Without a stable child care sector, the 11 million working parents with children under age three will struggle to return to or remain in the workforce. Access to child care impacts all Americans, regardless of party, and it has become increasingly clear that a strong majority of voters recognize this— a recent First Five Years Fund poll found that 79% of all voters, including 63% of Republican women voters, say the coronavirus crisis has shown us how essential it is that we build a child care system that makes child care available and affordable to all families who need it. A subsequent Center for American Progress survey found that six in 10 American parents believe there is a serious problem finding quality, affordable care in their community, and the pandemic has exacerbated challenges in terms of availability and cost of child care for four in 10 parents. Furthermore, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that 32% of employers have seen their employees leave the workforce as a result of COVID-19, with 58% of them citing child care concerns as the cause.
Once again, ECEC wants to thank Congress for including $10 billion in emergency funding for the child care industry in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This funding will allow child care providers across the country to keep their doors open for the next few months as we continue to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. We look forward to our continued work in the new year with members of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle to ensure our industry receives the support it will need to maintain operations in the long-term, and continue to serve our nation's working families.
ABOUT THE EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION CONSORTIUM
The Early Care and Education Consortium is a non-profit alliance of the leading multi-state/multi-site child care providers, key state child care associations, and premier educational service providers, representing nearly 6,750 programs in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and select international locations. Our members serve as the unified collective voice for providers of high-quality programs and services that support families and children from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. We are advocates for strong federal and state policies that bring quality to scale. Learn more at https://www.ececonsortium.org/.
SOURCE Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC)