The following is a press release from Congresswoman Katherine Clark’s office. She is a Democrat who represents the fifth congressional district, which includes Framingham, Ashland, & Natick.
WASHINGTON DC – Today, June 16, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, introduced the Child Care is Infrastructure Act, a new comprehensive child care package that makes critical investments in infrastructure, education, and workforce development to revitalize the child care sector.
“Child care in America is at its breaking point. The pandemic shook an already fragile system and now, as the nation looks to reopen, parents and providers face an impossible situation in which neither has the resources needed to get back to work safely,” said Congresswoman Clark. “By providing grants to renovate child care facilities and loans to support the training and financial stability of early educators, we can help to revitalize this industry and start honoring its role as an essential part of our economic infrastructure.”
60% of all providers across the country were forced to close down due to the pandemic and as states begin reopening, child care providers are responsible for implementing new safety guidelines to protect the health of their students and staff.
However, due to months of lost revenue and already tight operating budgets, many providers warn they will be unable to survive and reopen without financial support.
This would devastate an industry that is 96% women owned and operated, 40% of which are women of color.
Meanwhile, parents and employers are relying on the child care sector to return to work. Even before the pandemic began, the economy was losing money because of a crisis of child care.
The Council for Strong America estimated that American businesses lose at least $12.7 billion annually due to their employees’ child care challenges. Without making an immediate investment to revitalize the system, parents, and too often women, will be forced to leave the workforce and businesses will sustain even greater financial losses.
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.