Tri-Caucus Leaders Urge Senate Leaders to Include Child Care Assistance in Next COVID-19 Package

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July 23, 2020
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Tri-Caucus Leaders Urge Senate Leaders to Include Child Care Assistance in Next COVID-19 Package

 

Washington, D.C. — Leaders of the Congressional Tri-Caucus—composed of Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37), and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27)—sent a letter to Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer urging the U.S. Senate to include H.R. 7027, the Child Care is Essential Act, and H.R. 7327, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, in the next coronavirus recovery package. 

“Child care remains the backbone of our nation’s economy, serving over 11 million families across a broad socioeconomic spectrum. Yet, due to the national emergency and the coronavirus pandemic, this sector is on the brink of collapse. The U.S. economy cannot begin to recover without high-quality licensed child care to support America’s working families,” the Members wrote. “We urge you to provide substantial investments in our child care sector to ensure all communities are prepared to re-enter the workforce.”

The letter was signed by Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Congressman Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-3), Congressman Ben Ray Luján (NM-3), Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-3), Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Congressman Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (NY-5), Congressman J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), Congressman José Serrano (NY-15), Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Congresswoman Norma Torres (CA-35), Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-3), Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09), Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Congressman Filemon Vela (TX-34), Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-4), Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-5), Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-3), Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-At-large), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (Guam-At-Large), Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (NY-12), Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36),  Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-7), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-02), Congressman David Trone (MD-06), Congresswoman Donna E. Shalala (FL-27), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large),Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-6), Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Congressman Jesús "Chuy" García (IL-04), Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-2), Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51), Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-3), Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8), Congressman Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33),  Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-1), Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Congresswoman Sharice L. Davids (KS-3), Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07), Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-5),Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett (Virgin Islands-At-large), Congressman TJ Cox (CA-21), Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1).

 

Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.

 

We write today to urge you to include H.R. 7027, the Child Care is Essential Act, and H.R. 7327, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, in the next coronavirus recovery package. In the short run, the bills provide critical financial assistance necessary to stabilize the child care sector and ensure child care providers are able to stay viable and care for our nation’s young children during this pandemic. They also provide parents and employers the needed certainty that safe, affordable child care will continue to be available if they return to work. Child care remains the backbone of our nation’s economy, serving over 11 million families across a broad socioeconomic spectrum. Yet, due to the national emergency and the coronavirus pandemic, this sector is on the brink of collapse. The U.S. economy cannot begin to recover without high-quality licensed child care to support America’s working families. Therefore, we urge you to include additional investments for the child care sector into the next coronavirus relief package by establishing a child care stabilization fund, supporting parents, employers, and child care providers, as well as continuing investments into the Child Care and Development Fund. 

Child care providers have experienced unprecedented changes during the coronavirus pandemic. A recent nationwide survey of parents found that 61% of parents had their child care center close at least temporarily due to COVID-19.[1] Of programs that remained open, 85% reported they were operating at less than 50% of their enrollment capacity and 65% of those were operating at less than 25% of capacity.[2] Many programs have had to furlough teachers, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that a third of child care workers, more than 300,000 individuals, lost their jobs in March alone.[3] Some larger providers have seen an 85% to 90% decline in enrollment. Even as many states reopen their economies, childcare enrollment is limited due to reduced group sizes and other COVID-19-related factors. Child care centers nationwide are still only operating at 47% of their full capacity.[4] Further, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis estimates centers stand to lose between $2,600 and $4,800 per month as a result of 10-person group limits.[5] The recent rise in cases—along with concerns over a second wave in the fall—will extend the impact on the child care industry, thereby rendering federal action all the more urgent.

With fixed costs and declining income, many child care providers who want to remain open, or reopen to support our essential workers as well as the rest of our nation’s workforce, have been forced to permanently shut their doors or are on the brink of permanent closure in a matter of weeks. Our country’s economic recovery depends on families being able to return to work. Should these providers close for good, they will not be able to support our nation’s working families as essential workers continue to go to work and as others start going back to their jobs.

We urge you to provide substantial investments in our child care sector to ensure all communities are prepared to re-enter the workforce. Before the pandemic hit the nation, 51% of Americans lived in neighborhoods classified as child care deserts, meaning they lacked sufficient licensed child care to meet demand.[6] Hispanic and American Indian/Alaskan Native families were disproportionately impacted by these shortages, with nearly 57% and 60% of such populations, respectively, living in areas with an undersupply of licensed child care.[7] Hispanic and Asian children are most likely to have a lack of child care options in their communities.[8]

This pandemic will likely exacerbate these disparities, leaving communities of color at high risk of being unable to access child care assistance as more workers are called back into work.[9]

Parents may not be able to find care because child care providers are struggling to stay open, and large numbers of parents who are not paying for child care because they are unemployed or working from home. Because revenue in the child care sector is largely based on family tuition, with Black, Hispanic, and Asian communities disproportionately impacted by job losses due to the coronavirus, child care providers in predominantly minority communities may struggle to stay afloat. Broad permanent closures of child care providers in these communities will only hinder our nation’s ability for economic growth as Black, Hispanic, and Asian communities will be left with little to no child care support just as they start looking for new job opportunities or searching for educational and workforce training. It is impossible for the economy to recover and parents to return to work without safe, high-quality child care. 

The high cost of quality child care has a disparate impact on Black families because Black children are disproportionately likely to live in homes with only working parents, but Black working parents earn 40 percent less, on average, than white working parents.[10] For workers with low wages, work is impossible without child care subsidies, and difficult even with assistance. Lower-paid workers are also more likely to have jobs with unpredictable, variable, or inflexible schedules that require them to work outside of normal business hours, making child care more expensive and harder to obtain.[11]Parents who work evenings or night shifts can have trouble finding child care and are more likely to use multiple arrangements. Hispanic and Black workers are the most likely to work nonstandard schedules out of any other demographic, which often affects ability to find child care.[12]

Moreover, people of color are disproportionately represented in the child care workforce.[13] About 40 percent of the child care workforce are people of color who tend to be concentrated in low-level positions with lower credential requirements and relatively low pay.[14] The child care workforce alone is 94% female and 40% persons of color.[15]Latinas – who represent 15% of all workers – comprise 21% of child care workers, and Black women represent 15% of all child care workers.[16] This data demonstrates that protecting the child care industry should not only be seen as an economic priority, but also one of racial equity.

The nation’s economic recovery will come in waves and timelines will vary by state, meaning that child care programs of all types must be ready to reopen their doors to the children and families they serve. These programs will face increased costs to bring back their workforces or recruit new educators and implement new health and safety practices such as enhanced health screenings, installing sinks in classrooms and entry ways, upgrading ventilation systems to improve air quality, deep cleanings, and constructing partitions to reduce class sizes. The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act will help child care programs upgrade their facilities and receive support in managing construction plans. 

Providers will also need to invest in curriculum changes to educate children on social distancing, and to accommodate children who have not had access to an educational or who are experiencing mental health challenges as a result of the pandemic. Each of these needs, combined with the fact that most, if not all, of these programs will operate at a loss in the early stages of recovery, will place an increased strain on providers’ budgets in the near term. 

The initial investment in the child care sector in the CARES Act was a great start. However, we must do more to help a critical sector that is facing significant challenges while trying to provide much needed care services to families across the country. The Child Care is Essential Act would provide $50 billion to ensure all child care providers, including non-center-based providers, mid- to large-size center-based providers that were ineligible for PPP or Main Street loans, providers with low administrative capabilities, and providers in urban, rural, and suburban communities, receive the financial support they need to stay viable and provide care for all children in safe, healthy, and enriching environments. The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act will increase child care affordability, promote the safety of child care facilities, protect the health of working families with young children, and support child care providers trying to rebuild their businesses and create safe spaces for the children they serve. Taken together, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act and the Child Care is Essential Act offer a legislative package that represents a critical investment to helping Americans get back to work and our economy back on its feet.

We trust you share our recognition of the indispensable role child care plays in allowing our economy to move past this public health and financial crisis, and especially in keeping tens of thousands of employees of color in stable jobs, whether in the child care sector or elsewhere. Without additional funding for the child care sector alongside targeted support for impacted families, nearly 4.5 million of child care slots could be permanently lost.[17] This means millions of parents will be unable to return to work. The long-term viability of child care providers, the wellbeing of working families, and the viability of our nation’s economy, is dependent on additional financial relief from Congress.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you to provide for the immediate needs of our nation’s child care providers and working families in the next coronavirus relief package.

 

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