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Bonamici, Clark, Bowman Introduce Child Care is Infrastructure Act

March 17, 2021
Press Release
Legislation provides funding to improve child care facilities, creates loan repayment and scholarship programs, support higher education for early educators

 

MALDEN, MASSACHUSETTSToday, Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (MA-5), introduced the Child Care is Infrastructure Act, a comprehensive child care package that makes critical investments in child care facilities and the early education workforce. The bill was co-led by Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1).

 

“For too long, America has failed to recognize child care for what it is: an essential piece of our economic infrastructure. Today that changes,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “Just like our roads and bridges, child care fuels our economy and allows parents, businesses and kids to thrive. We must make the long-term investments in this sector to ensure the collapse caused by COVID-19 never happens again. With the Child Care is Infrastructure Act, we will stabilize child care providers, improve the safety of our child care facilities, support the financial well-being of early educators, and in turn, create a more robust, just economy for all.”

 

“Child care is essential to our economy and the well-being of our families and communities,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Too many families have struggled to find and afford quality care for years, and many child care workers have been earning poverty wages that don’t provide enough for their own families to thrive. The pandemic exacerbated these challenges, and we cannot fully recover without investing in child care and making quality care more accessible now and in the future. I’m glad to join Rep. Clark in recognizing child care as critical social infrastructure by investing in child care facilities and the child care providers who care for  those who are so important to our future - our children.”

"Our infrastructure will not truly be revitalized until we make a serious investment in early education and child care facilities,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman. “Every child deserves a healthy space to learn and grow. I’m honored to join Rep. Clark on this bill and make sure that we are investing robustly in in our child care facilities and workforce so that our kids, families and child care providers can thrive."

 

For years, the child care industry has struggled with chronic under-investment, slim margins, and an underpaid workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic only intensified these existing deficiencies and exposed the need for urgent action to address them. The need for quality child care has never been clearer, as parents are faced with the challenge of returning to work and do not have access to child care for their children. Right now, over one million moms have been pushed out of the workforce due in part to the child care crisis.

 

This package will make urgently needed investments in child care infrastructure: 

 

  • Directing HHS to conduct two national needs assessments of early child care and learning facilities to understand the impact of the pandemic in the first year and then evaluate the ongoing needs of child care facilities by year four.  
  • Establishing a competitive grant program for states, which will be administered by HHS to address renovations or modifications to child care facilities, including any modular adaptations necessary to keep staff and children safe during the pandemic;
  • Setting aside a minimum of 10% and a maximum of 15% of the authorized funds to award grants of up to $10 million to intermediary organizations, including certified community development financial institutions or other organizations that have a demonstrated experience in developing or financing early care and learning facilities
  • Authorizing $10 billion over five years to invest in our nation’s child care infrastructure. 

This package will also make robust investments in education and workforce development by authorizing $35 million for the following:

 

  • Administering a student loan repayment program of up to $6,000 annually for five years for early childhood educators working for providers eligible to receive CCDBG funding. 
  • Providing up to $3,000 annually to eligible individuals pursuing a Childhood Development Associate (CDA) Credential or an associate’s degree

 

The legislation also directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the tax credit for employer-provided child care, using data collection to better understand why the tax credit is underutilized. 

 

Additionally, the package reauthorizes the Child Care Access Means Parents In School (CCAMPIS) grant program at $200 million to funds campus-based child care at institutions of higher education to better support parent students.

 

Finally, the legislation recognizes that child care is essential to communities. Through the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods program, the legislation would ensure program applications receive extra credit for including early learning and child care facilities as a priority. 

 

The bill is supported by a number of child care provider and advocacy organizations.

 

“BPC is pleased to see members of Congress continuing to seek creative solutions to our nation’s child care crisis, as evidenced by the introduction of the Child Care is Infrastructure Act, and strongly urge the continuation of a bipartisan and bicameral discussion on how to shore up this crucial market for parents, providers, and the economy,” said Linda Smith, Director, Bipartisan Policy Center’s Early Childhood Initiative. 

 

“Our patchwork and underfunded child care and early learning system is premised upon low pay for early educators and unaffordable fees for families – with the most severe impacts shouldered by women of color,” said Melissa Boteach, VP, NWLC. “COVID-19 revealed and exacerbated these inequities, and at the same time revealed a fundamental truth: Child care is infrastructure –it is the work that makes all other work possible. The Child Care is Infrastructure Act would help us rebuild on a more sustainable path, providing early educators with the facilities and quality jobs that recognize how essential child care workers are.”

 

“The Child Care is Infrastructure Act takes the important and much needed step of providing dedicated federal funding for child care facilities infrastructure and technical assistance to providers, debunking the notion that children and providers in low income urban and rural communities deserve anything less than spaces that are healthy, safe, and conducive to high-quality care and learning,” said Nicole Barcliff, Co-Chair, National Children’s Facilities Network.

 

Congresswoman Clark understands that child care is an essential part of U.S. infrastructure because no industry will be able to fully recover from the pandemic if child care collapses,” said Mario Cardona, Chief of Policy and Practice, Child Care Aware of America. “This bill includes needed funding for child care facilities and higher education loan repayment and scholarship programs for child care providers, both of which can help revitalize the sector after the pandemic’s devastation. The funds provided by the American Rescue Plan will help stabilize child care, but we must commit to building back a better system that includes facilities that promote the health and well-being of children and offers providers equitable access to higher education and degree attainment.” 

 

“Nearly 1 in 4 college students are raising kids, and one of their biggest challenges is getting child care,” said Jesse Barba, Senior Director of External Affairs, Young Invincibles. “Child care is arguably one of the most — if not the most — important support for student parents to be successful in college. The Covid crisis has only deepened that need, and this legislation will finally give our student parents a fair shot at success. The Child Care is Infrastructure Act is critical to both ensuring our economy can fully reopen and reducing disparities in child care accessibility.”

 

"The Child Care is Infrastructure Act will dramatically improve the safety and working conditions for the early education workforce and our youngest learners," said Naila Bolus, CEO, Jumpstart. "Representative Clark’s loan assistance proposal, specifically, is urgently needed to recruit and retain the new early educators Jumpstart introduces to the field every year but who are squeezed between the cost of higher education and inadequate compensation in the field. A highly qualified ECE workforce has never been more critical as educators work to mitigate the tremendous lost learning opportunities experienced due to COVID."

 

“We are thrilled to see Representative Clark reintroduce her Child Care is Infrastructure Act. A strong, equitable child care system is an essential part of the infrastructure the country needs to be able to recover from the pandemic so parents can work and children can thrive,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director, CLASP. “We applaud the bill’s investments in research, facilities, and the workforce.” 

 

“The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) strongly endorses the Child Care is Infrastructure Act and applauds Congresswoman Clark’s leadership on improving our nation’s child care system,” said Daniel A. Nissenbaum, CEO of the Low Income Investment Fund. “Designating Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to help distribute funding builds on the industry’s success in ensuring the Paycheck Protection Program reached underserved small businesses, like home-based child care. As a CDFI with a 20-year track record of investing $178 million to support 270,000 child care slots, LIIF is eager to work to ensure these funds reach the providers and families that need them most. This is a groundbreaking bill that will improve the health, safety, and quality of early care and learning environments.”

 

“COVID-19 has not only devastated the child care industry but also shed light on its vital importance to our families, societies, and economies,” said Rey Chrobocinski, Director, Federal Government Relations at Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). “We must begin to treat the child care industry as the vital industry that it is, and not only help it recover but invest in child care so that every child has access to the safe, nurturing, and high-quality environment that they deserve. That’s why SCAN applauds Representative Clark for reintroducing the Child Care is Infrastructure Actthat will guarantee the child care industry thrives now, and long into the future.”

  

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