House Recognizes Dire Need for Child Care Funding with Passage of Two Historic Bills, CLASP Urges the Senate to Follow Suit.

Washington, DC, July 29, 2020—Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two child care bills—the Child Care is Essential Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act—which together would provide a landmark increase of nearly $100 billion in direct child care funding over the next five years, including $50 billion in immediate pandemic relief. These bills, which passed with bipartisan support, would sustain the sector during COVID-19 and lay the foundation for a strong, equitable recovery. The passage of these bills represents a historic and long-overdue recognition of the need for substantial investment in child care, which has been vastly underfunded for decades. In fact, only one in six eligible children receives child care assistance.

“CLASP applauds the House for passing the Child Care is Essential Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act. Children, parents, and child care providers need urgent help now.” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy. “The coronavirus and its economic devastation have made child care’s importance clear—even as one quarter of child care jobs have been lost since the pandemic began. Families who were least likely to access affordable, quality child care before the pandemic—families with low incomes and families of color—will almost certainly feel the greatest impact of the current child care crisis. These landmark bills will sustain the sector during COVID-19 and lay the groundwork for child care to be stronger and more equitable during the recovery and beyond, and the Senate should act swiftly to enact them into law.”

The Child Care is Essential Act would dedicate $50 billion in relief funding for the child care sector to help sustain providers and reduce child care cost burdens for parents during the coronavirus pandemic. CLASP’s estimates show how the funds would be allocated to states. The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act would increase federal investment in the child care sector. Importantly, the Act would increase the Child Care Entitlement to States to $10 billion (for a total of $35 billion over 5 years), providing more stable funding to the system. It would also make the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit fully refundable, which would allow many families with low incomes to access the credit for the first time and provide a $10 billion investment in child care facilities over five years.

The two bills appropriately respond to the sector’s needs with comprehensive support. They lay the foundation for a recovery that will allow parents to go back to work and school, children to return to nurturing settings that help them thrive, and millions of child care workers—disproportionately women of color—to maintain their livelihoods. The bills also provide an essential down payment on public investment to meet the needs of children, parents, and providers in the longer term.

CLASP, in partnership with the National Women’s Law Center and former U.S. Council of Economic Advisors labor economist Aaron Sojourner, estimates that the child care field needs $9.6 billion per month during the pandemic to sustain providers and serve the children of essential workers—a figure that would be even higher for programs to implement current guidance to protect children and workers’ health and safety in child care. Both bills would also allow policymakers to combat racial inequities in the child care sector that have worsened during the pandemic—something that previous coronavirus legislation has failed to do.

CLASP applauds the House for recognizing the essential nature of child care by passing these bills and urges the Senate to follow suit.