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Senator Baldwin, Colleagues Introduce $50 Billion Bill to Address Child Care Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined her colleagues to introduce the Child Care is Essential Act to address the child care crisis exacerbated by coronavirus through creating a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund. The legislation will provide grant funding to child care providers to stabilize the child care sector and support providers to safely reopen and operate. The legislation is led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, and Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Bob Casey (D-PA).

As businesses begin to reopen and working families need child care, child care providers across the country are struggling to keep the doors open as they operate with significantly reduced capacity and face increased operating costs with limited revenue. Many are even at risk of permanent closure, resulting in the potential loss of up to 4.5 million child care slots across the country. Without federal help, families will struggle even more to find child care—with recent estimates from the National Women’s Law Center showing that it would take at least $9.6 billion per month to keep current child care providers in business.

“As we continue addressing the coronavirus pandemic throughout Wisconsin, our child care providers are struggling to reopen their doors to the families they serve,” said Senator Baldwin. “Child care providers are currently dealing with increased operating expenses, capacity limitations and revenue challenges that threaten their ability to stay in business and care for our children. This legislation will create the Child Care Stabilization Fund to make sure these providers have the resources they need to safely reopen and serve our working families and their kids.”

Specifically, the Child Care Stabilization Fund would help child care providers and working families by:

  • Covering child care providers’ operating expenses and heightened costs of providing care due to the pandemic;
  • Ensuring that funding gets to providers quickly;
  • Requiring that providers continue to pay their staff;
  • Providing tuition and copayment relief for working families;
  • Promoting health and safety through compliance with public health guidance;
  • Prioritizing providers that serve underserved populations;
  • Ensuring grants are awarded equitably across child care settings; and
  • Conducting oversight through robust reporting requirements.

A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 27, led by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee.

The Child Care is Essential Act is also cosponsored by: Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Doug Jones (D-AL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

The Child Care is Essential Act is endorsed by more than 80 national organizations, including: Child Care Aware of America, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), First Five Years Fund, American Academy of Pediatrics, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus Campaign for Children, ZERO to Three, National Women’s Law Center, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Center for American Politics (CAP), National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Domestic Workers Alliance, Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), National Association for Family Child Care, National Military Family Association, National Organization for Women (NOW), National Partnership for Women & Families, YWCA USA.

A one-page summary of the Child Care is Essential Act can be found here.