WASHINGTON, March 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Yesterday, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) into law. ARPA is a sweeping COVID-19 pandemic relief package providing over $42 billion in direct relief funds to the child care industry, including $24 billion to stand up a child care stabilization fund, $15 billion through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program and $3.5 billion in mandatory funding through the Child Care Entitlement to the States. In addition to direct relief, the package also includes $1 billion for Head Start programs and robust one-year expansions of three critical tax relief programs—the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and Dependent Care FSAs.
Throughout the pandemic, child care providers have and continue to battle with substantially increased operating expenses in order to implement new health and safety protocols and hire the additional staff required to do so. At the same time, providers have operated with decreased revenues due to limited capacity to ensure compliance with social distancing recommendations, and lower enrollment as parents have either chosen or been forced to remove their children from care. As of December 2020, 56% of child care centers reported they were losing money every day that they remained open, while 81% of survey respondents from programs that are open reported they were still serving fewer children than prior to the pandemic, with an average decline of nearly one-third. Between February and December 2020, the child care industry lost roughly 171,000 jobs, many of which still have not been recovered. With limited to no access to formal child care and employees leaving the workforce as a result, 40% of employers are concerned their employees will not fully return to work.
"The American Rescue Plan is a critical lifeline to save child care, an essential service for families with young children. Child care providers around the country stepped up to serve families who needed us throughout this pandemic. Most of us never closed our doors because we knew our communities could not function without our services. Today we are still operating at far less than capacity, and we have increased costs to keep our children and early educators safe. We need continued financial support until the pandemic is truly behind us because if we are forced to close our schools, the ripple effects for families returning to work would be devastating," said Chad Dunkley, CEO of New Horizon Academy and Kinderberry Hill Child Development Centers, and board co-chair of the Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC).
"The American Rescue Plan brings tremendous relief for millions of families, many of whom have been struggling under the hardships caused by the pandemic," said Mark Bierley, CEO, Learning Care Group. "With the child-related provisions in the stimulus package, low and middle income families will now have far greater access to high-quality early education and much-needed child care in a safe learning environment. We look forward to serving them with excellence in our school communities and preparing their children for a bright future."
"This legislation is another indication of how essential the child care sector is to a healthy economy," added Jo Kirchner, CEO of Primrose Schools and board co-chair of ECEC. "Early childhood educators make it possible for parents of young children to remain in our workforce, and they provide the care and education that equip children with skills necessary to thrive in the modern world. As an industry, we must continue to collaborate at federal, state and local levels and ensure that all child care providers have the support and guidance necessary to provide accessible and safe care for all families."
"Full recovery from the pandemic requires both a healthcare response and an economic response," said Dennis R. Maple, President and CEO of Goddard Systems, Inc., the franchise owner of The Goddard School. "President Biden's American Rescue Plan – with its focus on increasing vaccinations and providing additional economic stimulus and relief for small business owners – is critical for essential industries like childcare. This summer will be a pivotal time to provide children with safe, educational spaces that allow them to reengage with their structured learning and development so they can be best positioned for a successful return to the classroom in the fall. The passage of President Biden's plan is an important step forward in the recovery of our nation and our industry."
"From the beginning of the pandemic, early childhood educators have provided an essential service to families when they needed help the most. The American Rescue Plan recognizes the importance of child care and is a much-needed leg-up for America's families who need support now more than ever," said Tom Wyatt, CEO of KinderCare Education. "This relief bill helps ensure parents have the support they need to return to work and school as states open back up. All families deserve access to high quality child care – they shouldn't have to choose between their child's future and a better quality of life."
"Child care has always been a critical cornerstone of our economy, of the advancement of women in the workplace and in efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our nation. It has taken a pandemic and blow to our economy for many to finally come to this critical realization," said Bright Horizons CEO Stephen Kramer. "We are grateful to the Administration, to leading employers, and to other progressive officials who have long recognized the critical role early education and early educators play in our society and the need to provide relief for those working hard to educate the next generation of leaders and provide nurturing calm through the storm."
ECEC is incredibly grateful to Congressional leaders for recognizing and prioritizing the dire needs of America's child care providers, as well as the children and working families they serve. The relief funding delivered by Congress will supply necessary short-term assistance to families and providers suffering from the effects of the pandemic. The child care industry, which has been facing a crisis since long before the pandemic, is an essential pillar of the American economy. Looking forward, we hope Congress will consider ways it might take action to strengthen and expand the child care industry, while also making high-quality care more affordable and accessible to all of our nation's families. We look forward to our continued work with members of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle to ensure the child care industry receives the support it needs to maintain operations in the long-term to 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 over 7,100 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)