Supporting Immigrant Providers and Families Through Child Care Relief Funds
By Tiffany Ferrette
On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law. The Act was the most recent and most significant package for child care, following the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020 and the Coronavirus Response Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) in December 2020. ARPA included historic investments for child care through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and creation of a stabilization grant program that lead child care agencies in each state will administer. States have begun planning how to implement their ARPA allocations based on the Act as well as Administration for Children and Families (ACF) guidance on the stabilization grants and CCDBG subsidy funds.
The previous four years, which included the COVID-19 pandemic, an ensuing economic crisis, and a series of anti-immigrant policies, led the country to an inflection point. Child care is a critical support for all children and families—including immigrant families who comprise a significant share of our nation’s families with young children. Members of the child care workforce who have their own families also depend on child care. ARPA extended important relief for families—notably for immigrant providers and families who were left out of previous relief packages—and presents opportunities to support immigrant communities. Because an estimated 24 percent of all children under age 6 have at least one immigrant parent, policymakers must include immigrants in their planning for child care relief funds. U.S. citizen children living in families with low incomes are eligible for child care subsidies even if their noncitizen parents are not eligible for public benefits. As states continue to plan, state administrators and policymakers must consider the large percentage of children in immigrant families who can benefit from these investments. As of 2015, 321,000 child care workers were immigrants, making up over 18 percent of the early care and education workforce. Since 1990, the population of immigrant child care workers has more than tripled.
Some 6 million immigrant workers are employed in a broad range of industries including child care, agriculture, health care, and construction. Immigrants have been working on the frontline of the pandemic to keep Americans safe and healthy, yet many have been deprived of the same necessary supports for themselves and their families that they have been providing to others. Access to child care for immigrant families and to workforce supports for immigrant child care providers will help address the harm and trauma caused by more than a year of health crises, job losses, and educational changes. Policymakers should pair child care benefits with other priorities to interrupt historical barriers and promote overall well-being, helping immigrant families and providers to thrive. Policymakers must also prioritize addressing health and mental health issues that have arisen from over a year of a pandemic and four years of anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric.
ARPA provides two distinct opportunities to support immigrant families with young children seeking child care and to support immigrant child care workers. In determining how to distribute funds, decisionmakers must do so equitably to ensure immigrant providers and families have access to the benefits they need since these providers are critical to rebuilding and improving the child care system.
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