Wyden, Warren, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Improve Access to Quality, Affordable Child Care for American Families
Building Child Care for a Better Future Act expands mandatory child care funding and provides grants to improve child care workforce, increase supply, and improve quality and access
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., today led colleagues in introducing legislation to help American families get access to the quality, affordable child care they need.
The need to rebuild a stronger, more robust and more equitable child care system is more important than ever as working families across America struggle to access affordable, quality child care. Emergency funding helped many providers stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but clearly long-term funding is urgently needed to ensure working families can find quality care and education for their young children. Wyden and Warren’s Building Child Care for a Better Future Act addresses the child care gap by providing new, permanent funding so that states, tribes, and territories have the critical resources they need to develop a child care infrastructure that better serves all families. The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Bob Casey, D-Penn., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
“The child care system is the backbone of the American economy, allowing working parents to do their jobs and provide for their families. Yet, right now, so many families don’t have access to affordable, quality child care and are forced to make impossible decisions,” said Wyden. “America can and should do better by prioritizing investments to make child care more available and strengthen its workforce with better pay and more training opportunities. An investment in a more equitable child care system is an investment in working families and the American economy. We can’t afford to wait.”
“Just like investments in roads, bridges, and broadband, investments in child care are critical for families and the success of our entire economy,” said Warren. “I have long said that child care is infrastructure and the Building Child Care for a Better Future Act will help secure a strong, long-lasting federal investment in child care to raise wages for workers and ensure affordable and accessible child care for all.”
“We made a generational investment in our Nation’s crumbling infrastructure to make it easier for Americans to get to work, school, and to visit their families,” said Casey. “But for some Americans, their bridge to work is quality, affordable child care. Investing in child care is good for our children and our economy.”
“We need to think about childcare as infrastructure—just like roads and broadband. Providing high-quality, affordable, safe childcare isn’t just the right thing to do—it also boosts our economy by helping ensure that parents are able to work,” said Smith. “I hear about the value of childcare just as much from businesses, economic development experts and chambers of commerce as I do from families with children. Lack of access to affordable, convenient childcare has forced many—mostly women and often women of color—to leave the labor force to care for their children. The Building Child Care for a Better Future Act is one of the many steps Congress must take to support families, providers and our economy.”
“America’s economy has roared back from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re stymied by a broken child care system that is keeping parents, especially moms, from joining the workforce,” said Whitehouse. “Our Building Child Care for a Better Future Act would strengthen our nation’s child care system by investing in permanent funding to better attract and retain top-notch early educators while lowering costs and increasing access for families.”
The Building Child Care for a Better Future Act expands mandatory child care funding by increasing annual funding for the Child Care Entitlement to States (CCES) to $10 billion per year (a $6.45 billion increase per year). It also increases the amount of CCES funds reserved for Indian tribes and tribal organizations to 5% of funds and for territories to 4% of funds.
The legislation also appropriates $5 billion to the CCES annually to provide new grants to improve child care workforce, supply, quality, and access in areas of particular need. The funding can be used for Child Care and Development Block Grant purposes including:
- Increasing child care slots in child care facilities and family child care homes;
- Establishing or expanding the operation of community or neighborhood-based family child care networks;
- Providing funding for construction and renovation of child care facilities and family child care homes;
- Providing start-up funding, technical assistance, support for improving business practices, and support navigating real estate financing and development processes;
- Providing guidance to child care providers on negotiating with landlords or applying for land or home ownership;
- Recruiting child care providers and staff;
- Supporting professional development and training for the child care workforce, including through apprenticeships, partnerships with labor unions or labor-management partnerships, and partnerships with public and nonprofit institutions of higher education;
- Maintaining an effective and diverse early care workforce by increasing total compensation, providing wage supplements or bonuses, or offering wage and retention rewards and ensuring adequate wages for staff of child care providers, including sole proprietors and independent contractors, that, at a minimum -
- Provide a living wage for all staff of such child care providers; and
- Are adjusted on an annual basis or cost of living increases; and
- Contracting with an intermediary with experience securing private sources of capital financing for child care facilities or other low-income community development projects to provide technical support.
A one-page summary of the legislation is here.
Bill text is here.
The Building Child Care for a Better Future Act is endorsed by Zero to Three, National Women's Law Center, Center for Law and Social Policy, Early Care & Education Consortium, Child Welfare League of America, First Focus Campaign for Children, Save the Children, Kindercare, Child Care Aware of America, National Education Association, National Association for Family Child Care, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Our Children Oregon, and Family Forward Oregon.
“Child care is fundamental U.S. infrastructure, as important to the people and the economy of this nation as roads, power, water and internet,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children. “First Focus Campaign for Children is celebrating Children’s Week and we are pleased to support this timely bill from Senators Wyden and Warren, long-standing Champions for Children. The Building Child Care for a Better Future Act provides new, permanent funding that would improve access, quality, and supply in child care, especially in high-need areas, and would significantly boost one of the system’s most important components: Its workforce.”
"The Child Welfare League of America is pleased to endorse the Building Child Care for a Better Future Act," said Christine James-Brown, President and CEO of Child Welfare League of America. "High-quality, safe, affordable child care protects children from maltreatment and reduces instances of abuse and neglect. But too many families are unable to access child care, either because it’s too expensive or there aren’t enough quality providers where they live. Too many child care and early education professionals earn poverty-level wages and struggle to make ends meet. This reality is untenable, and Congress must expand the child care and early learning infrastructure and invest in our future. CWLA applauds Senators Wyden and Warren for introducing this bill to address these critical issues for children, families, and the early childhood workforce."
“Child care is essential. Our economy depends on families having reliable and affordable child care. Our nation’s failure to adequately invest in a high-quality child care system stems from racial and gender stereotypes and expectations about who should provide care and whether and how caregiving should be valued. The outcome is both disproportionate harm on Black families, other families of color, immigrant families, and child care providers, and all of us left worse off,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “The Building Child Care for a Better Future Act recognizes the importance of sustainable and reliable funding in starting to right these wrongs. We applaud Senators Wyden and Warren for their commitment to the long-term future of a child care system that’s more equitable and better meets the needs of families, the child care workforce, and the nation’s economy.”
“High quality child care provided by well-supported and well-compensated early educators supports infants’ and toddlers’ healthy development while ensuring families can find the care they want and need. Yet our national failure to invest sufficient public funding in the child care sector guarantees that too many families with young children struggle to access high quality child care, and the system is facing a steep loss of public funding that will further harm babies, families, and early educators,” said Miriam Calderón, Chief Policy Officer at ZERO TO THREE. “The Building Child Care for a Better Future Act recognizes the important role stable federal investments play in building a stronger supply of high-quality care and provides much needed resources to strengthen our child care system. ZERO TO THREE thanks Senators Warren and Wyden for their leadership in supporting these critically needed investments.”
“Access to high-quality, affordable, accessible child care is essential for all families. As a national coalition of child care providers, education service providers, and state child care associations, ECEC is pleased to endorse the Building Child Care for a Better Future Act,” said Sage Schaftel, Acting Executive Director of Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC). “This legislation recognizes that for far too many families, access to quality education and care is out of reach. Furthermore, Senators Wyden and Warren recognize that the child care workforce is the workforce behind the workforce—without well-qualified and compensated child care educators and staff, many parents cannot go to work with the comfort that their children are being educated and cared for in safe and healthy environments. The long-term investments proposed in the Building Child Care for a Better Future Act will better equip our nation’s child care system to serve all who rely on it every day, and support the continued growth of the American economy.”
“It’s long past time for the United States to recognize child care as a public good, rather than a luxury," said Whitney Pesek, Director of Federal Child Care Policy at the National Women's Law Center. "The Building Child Care for a Better Future Act would help address the United States' child care crisis by providing new and permanent funding to help expand access to affordable, high-quality child care, particularly in areas where care is scarce or nonexistent. Importantly, the legislation will help ensure that early educators, who are overwhelmingly women and disproportionately women of color, are paid a living wage for their essential work. We are proud to endorse this legislation, which recognizes the important role that child care plays in strengthening our economy and setting up children and families for success.”
“Investments in child care are investments in an essential infrastructure that makes it possible for families to work and children to thrive. That’s why Save the Children is so pleased to endorse the Rebuilding a Building Child Care for a Better Future Act, and applauds Senators Wyden and Warren for their leadership in introducing this important piece of legislation,” said Roy Chrobocinski, Managing Director of Domestic Federal Policy at Save the Children. “Not only would this bill increase the overall level of child care funding to the states, but it would also provide much needed grants for child care facilities and the early education workforce.”
“The child care workforce, including those who work in home-based child care programs, faces many challenges, especially low wages,” said Erica Phillips, Executive Director of National Association for Family Child Care. “The Building Child Care for a Better Future Act will strengthen child care for families by providing increased permanent child care funding. The National Association for Family Child Care applauds Senators Warren and Wyden for this step towards increasing public investment in a mixed delivery child care system, ensuring families have access to care options that meet their needs and early educators can early a life-sustaining wage.”
"The Child Welfare League of America is pleased to endorse the Building Child Care for a Better Future Act," said Christine James-Brown, CWLA President and CEO. "High-quality, safe, affordable child care protects children from maltreatment and reduces instances of abuse and neglect. But too many families are unable to access child care, either because it’s too expensive or there aren’t enough quality providers where they live. Too many child care and early education professionals earn poverty-level wages and struggle to make ends meet. This reality is untenable, and Congress must expand the child care and early learning infrastructure and invest in our future. CWLA applauds Senators Wyden and Warren for introducing this bill to address these critical issues for children, families, and the early childhood workforce."
“The name of this bill really says it all,” says NAEYC CEO Michelle Kang. “We do need to build child care for a better future – and that means comprehensively addressing child care supply, quality, and access through investments in the early childhood education workforce. We appreciate the members of the Senate Finance Committee for recognizing and supporting the essential nature of child care and early learning as core infrastructure holding up this country, and for providing permanent solutions accessible to all states and all families.”
“Our entire economy is dependent on equitable access to child care. Like roads and bridges, affordable, high-quality child care is necessary infrastructure. Parents need affordable child care that provides peace of mind that their children are learning and loved. Employers need their employees to have access to reliable, affordable child care so they can return to work. And child care providers need to be valued and paid for the critical work they do,” said Courtney Veronneau, Sr. Political Director, Family Forward Oregon. “The Building Child Care for a Better Future Act is the type of bold action our communities need, and we appreciate Senator Wyden’s commitment to building the child care system our families deserve.”
“The Building Child Care for a Better Future Act speaks to the vision of the country we want to be – a place where our children are cared for, their families are supported, and the child care professionals who so expertly nurture the next generation are cared for as well, with family-supporting pay,” said Jenifer Wagley, M Ed, M Div. Executive Director of Our Children Oregon. “These investments are not just for those of us who have kids, it’s for everyone one of us who depends on a robust economy. Our children, their families and our economy need these investments now.”
Next Article Previous Article