House Passes Stevens-Led Bill to Create $50 Billion Child Care Stabilization Fund, Including $1.4 Billion for Michigan
WASHINGTON – Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 7027, the Child Care is Essential Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Haley Stevens (MI-11) alongside Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and other House and Senate Members.
The Child Care is Essential Act would create a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund and invest in child care so that providers across Michigan have the resources they need to safely reopen. Without adequate investments in the child care industry, families across the country will be unable to return to work.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, child care providers are figuring out how to support families while keeping children and staff safe. Nearly all child care providers are serving fewer children than usual, if they are open at all. On average, providers are serving 67 percent fewer children now than they were prior to the pandemic, significantly reducing their revenue. At the same time, providers are required to implement enhanced health and safety protocols that carry significant costs. Many states require that providers regularly do deep cleanings and disinfecting, which can add several hours of work each week. Even more costly are new limitations on classroom sizes.
Without adequate support from the federal government Michigan could lose 121,264 licensed child care slots, approximately 41% of the child care supply. The $1.4 billion Michigan would receive from the Child Care is Essential Act would help child care providers stay open, keep employees on payroll, and safely operate under new guidelines.
“We cannot talk about reopening our economy without having a conversation about how families will care for their children,” said Rep. Stevens. “Child care providers in Michigan and across the country are facing serious challenges, with many providers shut down or operating well under capacity for the duration of the pandemic. I was proud to introduce the Child Care is Essential Act in May, and even more proud to cast a vote for this important legislation today. We need these businesses to stay afloat, both to provide safe and affordable child care for frontline workers right now and to ensure that child care services will be available to families as our economy reopens. With this $50 billion investment, our nation can take a step toward safely reopening and rebuilding our economy.”
“Families need assurance that as they return to work, high-quality child care centers are available to them. During the pandemic, our sector has seen an unprecedented number of child care centers closing their doors. This is concerning as child care remains the backbone of our nation’s economy and is critical for parents to remain in the workforce. We thank Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) and her colleagues for their efforts to prevent the collapse of the sector, as we work to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for children.” – Mark Bierley, CEO, Learning Care Group
“The bipartisan passage of the Child Care Is Essential Act sets the stage for crucial negotiations on a COVID-19 recovery package that will determine whether the child care industry can survive this economic crisis. We are grateful to Congressional leaders like Congresswoman Haley Stevens for prioritizing the dire needs of America’s child care providers, who say they cannot remain in business without significant financial relief.” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “Now, as negotiations begin on a final economic recovery package, we look to House and Senate leadership to build off today’s bipartisan efforts, and prioritize significant emergency funding to prevent the child care industry from collapsing at a time when our economy needs it most.”
In May, Congresswoman Stevens sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling on Congress to establish a Child Care Stabilization Fund, similar to what was funded for the K-12 system as part of the CARES Act, to provide dedicated assistance that meets the unique needs of child care providers.
In April, Congresswoman Stevens sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, asking the U.S. Treasury to work with the Federal Reserve to make federal assistance available to struggling child care providers.
Prior to the spread of the coronavirus, Michigan could not provide care for every child that needed it. With 2.33 children per child care slot, working families lacked access to safe, quality child care. The spread of COVID-19 has only worsened this problem to the brink of catastrophe. Since the pandemic, it is now estimated that there are 3.95 children per child care slot. Without robust federal investments, the child care industry cannot provide the care needed to help Americans return to work.
The Child Care is Essential Act includes:
- Stabilization grants for personnel costs, sanitation and cleaning, training and other goods and services needed to maintain or resume operation of the child care program.
- Support for child care workers. This bill requires employers to keep child care workers on payroll at the same compensation level as pre-COVID as a condition of receiving stabilization grant funds.
- Support for working families by requiring providers to relieve families of copayments or tuition.
- Promotion of health and safety through compliance with public health guidance. Under this legislation, open providers would be required to meet health and safety guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local authorities.
A summary of the Child Care Is Essential Act is here.