To help alleviate some of the financial pressure the COVID-19 pandemic has caused over the past few months, the House passed two child care bills on Wednesday that will, in part, provide over $60 billion in funding for providers and families.
The first bill, the Child Care Is Essential Act, will provide $50 billion in grant funding to child care providers during the pandemic "to stabilize the child care sector and support providers to safely reopen and operate," according to the legislation.
Child care centers that receive funding can use it to pay for a variety of costs, such as employee salaries and benefits, PPE, cleaning and sanitizing costs, rent or mortgage payments, mental health support for children or employees, as well as any modifications needed as a result of the pandemic to safely provide child care services. For parents, the Child Care Is Essential Act would provide "relief from copayments and tuition."
The second bill in the package, the Childcare For Economic Recovery Act, includes several tax provisions to improve child care services and make it more affordable for families. For example, the bill will invest $10 billion in new infrastructure grants so child care providers can make necessary modifications in their facilities to protect children and staff from COVID-19, provide a new tax credit to help cover costs for rent, mortgages, and utilities for child care facilities, and make the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit completely refundable.
"The Childcare for Economic Recovery Act improves access to quality child care during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic," House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman and Rep. Nita M. Lowey said in a statement. "Through smart, bold, federal investments and tax provisions, the legislation will bring some much needed relief to financially struggling child care providers, to families who need child care so they can return to work, and to the U.S. economy, which depends on a fully engaged workforce and quality early childhood education."
Should these bills pass in the Senate, they will undoubtedly provide vital support and relief to families and providers during the ongoing pandemic. A survey conducted by the Bipartisan Policy Center and Morning Consult in April found that 43% of parents working remotely said they needed child care and 63% of parents had difficulty finding child care at the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, a Care.com survey conducted in June found that 47% of parents are more concerned about the cost of child care now than before the pandemic and 96% of parents said that they think the government should provide additional financial support for child care.
The Center for American Progress is urging lawmakers to include these acts in the second coronavirus relief package. "I commend the U.S. House of Representatives for demonstrating support for a much-needed child care stabilization fund so that parents can return to work and the nation can have a chance at economic recovery," Katie Hamm, vice president of Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress said in a statement. "Now, House and Senate leaders need to work together to ensure that child care stabilization funding is included in the next coronavirus relief package so that child care providers and parents can access these much-needed resources."
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