Child Care for Working Families Act Would Deliver on System Families and Workers Need
Washington, DC, April 22, 2021—Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) along with Senator Casey (D-PA), Senator Hirono (D-HI), and Representative Sablan (D-MP) reintroduced the Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA), which would transform the nation’s child care system. If signed into law, the CCWFA would guarantee high-quality, affordable child care for most children and families in the country and provide good jobs for child care staff – disproportionately women of color – who are now doing the nation’s most important work for deeply inadequate wages. Following on the heels of investments in relief for child care providers and for families as a result of the pandemic, the CCWFA provides an unprecedented opportunity to transform the child care system, which was already fragile before the pandemic, in a sustainable and meaningful way. Child care is vital infrastructure that supports families’ economic security, children’s wellbeing, and the strength of the nation’s economy. The CCWFA would help meet this essential need for families and the economy.
“This last year has demonstrated the vital importance of the child care sector – as the pandemic-driven devastation of the sector has undercut families’ economic stability, women’s labor force participation, and the national economy,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “By providing affordable, quality child care, the Child Care for Working Families Act would bolster the wellbeing of children, families, and early educators in communities across the country. In addition to helping families, child care is critical to our economy, gender justice, and racial equity. Child care has always been essential, and it’s past time to make affordable care for families a reality.”
Compared to today’s world where limited investment means only a tiny fraction of families could get help paying for child care even before the pandemic, the CCWFA guarantees affordable care for almost all families, by limiting out-of-pocket child care costs for families and eliminating them for families with the lowest incomes. Crucially, it would also increase wages and benefits for child care providers. This reintroduction comes with important improvements. The bill now includes increased resources to support racial equity through equity reviews, data disaggregation, simplified enrollment, and increased resources for select populations such as dual language learners. It also improves eligibility criteria to allow more children and families to access child care.
The pandemic devastated the child care sector. The sector lost 1 in 6 jobs, and thousands of providers were forced to shut down or operate below capacity. Meanwhile, families and children struggled without child care, and lack of access helped push over a million women—disproportionately women of color—out of the labor force. The Biden-Harris Administration rightfully invested in the sector in the American Rescue Plan to stave off collapse. But we must do more than return to the pre-pandemic, inequitable status quo that wasn’t working for children, families, or workers.
CLASP applauds Senator Murray and Representative Scott on the reintroduction of the CCWFA and their leadership on this issue. Now, Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration must work together to make the Child Care for Working Families Act a reality for the country’s children and families—and economy.
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The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions for people with low incomes. CLASP’s solutions directly address the barriers people face because of their race, ethnicity, and immigration status.