WASHINGTON, July 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- In two bipartisan votes on Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives passed the Child Care is Essential Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act.
The Child Care is Essential Act, which passed by a vote of 249-163, would create a $50 billion child care stabilization fund to provide much needed relief to child care providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund would offer direct grants to providers to help pay for sanitation, personnel, training, and other fixed and operational expenses associated with reopening and remaining open amid the pandemic. Eighteen Republicans joined Democrats in support of this measure.
The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, which passed by a vote of 250-161, would provide $10 billion in emergency funding to help child care providers reopen and make important health and safety modifications to their facilities. It would also provide nearly $10 billion each year to expand dependent care flexible spending accounts, give child care providers a refundable payroll tax credit, and expand the employee retention tax credit to encourage employers to keep child care workers employed. Twenty Republicans joined Democrats in support of this measure.
The bipartisan passage of these two bills represents an important step towards ensuring our nation's child care providers receive the funds they need to survive this pandemic. It also represents an important step in allowing working parents to return to their jobs, thereby accelerating our nation's economic recovery. Without assistance, it is estimated that 50% of the country's child care centers will close permanently, leading to a loss of 4.5 million child care slots and further exacerbating the existing child care crisis.
With the House's passage of these two bills and the Senate's inclusion of the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act in their recently introduced COVID-19 relief proposal (the HEALS Act), it is clear the survival of the child care sector is a bipartisan issue. A recent poll commissioned by the First Five Years Fund and Center for American Progress shows overwhelming bipartisan demand among voters across the country for Congress to prioritize emergency relief funding for child care providers in the next COVID-19 recovery package, including 74% of those who voted for President Trump, 83% of voters 65 and older, 86% of suburban women, 97% of Black voters, and 93% of Latinx voters. Now, as negotiations continue around the next relief package, it is more important than ever that Congress remain unified in its support for the child care sector—economic recovery will not be possible if parents do not have the support they need to return to work.
The Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC) is grateful to Congressional leaders for recognizing the dire needs of America's child care providers. However, it is imperative that Congress take action in the coming weeks and reach an agreement to build upon the $15 billion investment included in the Senate package, and the recent bipartisan passage of $50 billion included in the Child Care is Essential Act and $20 billion in tax and infrastructure investments included in the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act. If Congress does not continue to prioritize child care and ensure significant additional funding for these critical measures is included in a final COVID-19 relief bill, it is likely that there will be little left of the child care system when the economic recovery is fully underway, and the consequences could set women, particularly women of color, back a generation.
ABOUT THE EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION CONSORTIUM
The Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC) 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 6,500 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)