The Senate must make significant investments to address child care needs during the Coronavirus crisis

Last night House Democrats released a bill to combat the Coronavirus crisis that includes important funding to support child care providers, families, and children. The child care provisions in the bill would help meet some of the critical needs, but they will not be enough. We urge the Senate to put forth a proposal that invests $50 billion in child care to provide communities the supports they need to start to grapple with the scope of the crisis.

These House bill includes $6 billion in additional funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) which states can use for multiple purposes, such as keeping providers in business and paying workers; eliminating families’ copayments; and providing child care for essential workers. The bill also provides $1 billion in Head Start funding to help provide nutritious meals, increase availability of mental health services, and sustain programs, among other uses. Child care providers will also benefit from the bill’s substantial investment in loans for small businesses. Many families who continue to utilize and pay for child care will benefit from improvements to the Child Care and Dependent Tax Credit.

While this funding will be critical as families and communities scramble to address their health and economic security needs in response to COVID-19, it won’t be enough to address the scope and scale of the crisis we are facing. Child care is a $99 billion industry that is the backbone of the economy, providing safe places for children to learn and grow and an essential work support for parents. Yet even under typical circumstances and a strong economy, millions of providers operate on razor-thin margins. These challenges are exacerbated in the current crisis in which child care centers are closing, families are losing jobs and unable to pay for care, and emergency and essential personnel have elevated and unique child care needs. Recent research from the National Association for the Education of Young Children reveals that only 30 percent of the 6,000 child care providers surveyed would be able to survive a closure of more than two weeks without substantial support.

CLASP has asserted that to effectively respond to the needs of the child care providers and working families during the COVID-19 policymakers must:

  • Put the health and safety of children and families, early childhood educators, and the broader community first.
  • Sustain child care centers, family child care homes, and the early childhood workforce so they can survive economically, remain in business, and reopen afterwards.
  • Provide children and families with the health, nutrition, educational, and economic supports they need.
  • Support parents’ and caregivers’ economic security throughout the crisis.

The stakes and urgency are high. The Senate must take immediate steps to invest substantial, flexible resources into the child care system to address the needs of families and child care providers during and after this crisis.