ACTION ALERT: Urge Your Senators to Support Expansion of Childcare Programs
Major Investments in Childcare Proposed for Reconciliation Package
The United States severely lacks an adequate childcare infrastructure; the situation has been described as a “crisis.” For millions of families across the nation, the high costs of childcare have placed severe strains on budgets and forced many women to leave the workforce – as we have seen during the height of the pandemic. The childcare crisis is not a partisan matter; the childcare system is fundamentally broken, and families across both sides of the aisle are in need of affordable, accessible and high-quality childcare and early learning programs. Families who have a child with disabilities are especially in need of appropriate programs.
To make matters worse, over the course of the pandemic, many childcare facilities closed their doors and millions of childcare workers lost their jobs. As a result, there is a severe shortage of childcare workers, childcare and early learning facilities and high-quality childcare options for families.
The economic repercussions of inadequate and affordable childcare are extreme and the need for substantial government investments in childcare, early learning and preK programs is clear. Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) are proposing a revamped childcare infrastructure development package at a six-year cost of between $150 billion to $200 billion for the Reconciliation spending bill that is coming up soon. Only 51 votes are needed to pass this critical legislation.
WHY IT MATTERS:
While the childcare sector was in crisis before the pandemic, the situation has exponentially worsened over the past two years. The price of childcare has skyrocketed, and workers’ wages have not risen proportionately. Further, more families now live in childcare deserts, with no access to childcare/early learning options within a reasonable proximity. Despite the essential and high-risk work of early childhood educators and care providers, workers’ wages remain depressed, and benefits remain minimal – which is also a significant part of the availability problem.
The lack of adequate childcare infrastructure does not only affect families and children; all aspects of the economy face the consequences of the childcare crisis. Lower U.S. workforce participation is not only a challenge for families, who then have less income, but also for businesses, who then struggle to replace their workers and maintain a full staff. Consequently, the lack of childcare infrastructure prevents the nation from realizing its full economic growth potential.
Because of the serious inadequacies of a childcare infrastructure in the United States, having children decreases women’s attachment to the labor market and lowers women’s overall workforce participation. In other words, without affordable options for childcare, children act as a financial deterrent to women re-entering the labor market. The lack of childcare infrastructure is a serious impediment to women’s equal representation in the workforce and equal earnings.
In order to remedy the childcare crisis, childcare costs must be diminished, more childcare facilities must be established, and childcare workers’ wages and benefits must be raised. Sen. Patty Murray’s and Tim Kaine’s revamped childcare/early learning infrastructure proposal would address the serious deficits of the childcare system and provide essential support to millions of families. The senators’ proposal would build upon existing block grant programs for states, expand the childcare/ early learning infrastructure, increase pay for childcare and early/learning workers and ensure that childcare is affordable for families through the use of subsidies. For more details, read NOW’s report, The Childcare Crisis: a Major Investment is Desperately Needed, (LINK)
Take Action –
What Can I do?
Send a message now to both of your U.S. senators to support inclusion of the childcare/early learning investment package that should be included in the Reconciliation spending package the Senate will soon consider.
What do I say?
- Millions of families do not have access to high-quality affordable childcare and early learning programs in their communities because this country has failed to invest in these critical programs. The U.S. stands alone among developed nations in lack of sufficient investments to support access to early childhood care and learning — something the richest nation in the world can easily afford.
- As we have seen during the pandemic The shortage of affordable childcare and early learning programs forces parents – usually mothers — to drop out of the paid workforce. Clearly, the lack of affordable and accessible programs significantly hinders the productivity of the economy. To reduce poverty, maximize participation in the workforce, mitigate gender inequality, and foster the nation’s economic recovery from the pandemic, this nation needs to strengthen its childcare infrastructure.
- The Murray-Kaine revamped childcare, early learning proposal would build a supply of childcare options in diverse settings, expanding families’ options and allowing for increased choice in care. The proposal would also guarantee that childcare workers are compensated with competitive wages and benefits, ensuring greater worker retention rates and better overall quality of childcare. Hopefully, this proposal will become part of the upcoming Reconciliation spending package – and I hope that you will support this.
How do I do it?
You can find your Senators’ contact information here at Senate.gov, and a list of current cosponsors can be found on the bill’s page on Congress.gov. If your senator’s name is not on the list of cosponsors, it is especially important that you contact them to ask for their support.