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Wyden, Merkley Introduce $50 Billion Bill to Address Child Care Crisis

Wyden, Merkley Introduce $50 Billion Bill to Address Child Care Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today joined U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., in introducing a bill that would address the child care crisis worsened by coronavirus in Oregon and across the country by creating a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund.

The Child Care is Essential Act would provide grant funding to child care providers to stabilize the child care sector and support providers to safely reopen and operate.

”Child care workers in Oregon and nationwide are on the frontlines of this health and economic crisis, supporting families as parents return to work while trying to keep kids healthy and safe,” Wyden said. “Child care providers were undervalued well before this pandemic hit, and now they’re feeling the pinch more than ever. Congress is duty-bound to step in and invest in these essential businesses.”

“Child care services, and the workers who deliver them, are absolutely essential to countless families across Oregon,” said Merkley. “If child care providers are forced to shut their doors, countless working parents’ ability to go to work will be imperiled and the impact on children will be profound. And we know the impact would disproportionately hurt women, both among those who work in the child care field, as well as mothers who so often have to balance child rearing and breadwinning. This legislation is an important step forward in our efforts to support the child care sector, help families weather this storm, and ensuring that parents and children don’t pay the price for a lack of accessible and affordable child care.”

As businesses begin to reopen in Oregon and working families need child care, child care providers across the country are struggling to keep the doors open as they operate with significantly reduced capacity and face increased operating costs with limited revenue. Many are even at risk of permanent closure, resulting in the potential loss of up to 4.5 million child care slots across the country. Without federal help, families will struggle even more to find child care—with recent estimates from the National Women’s Law Center showing that it would take at least $9.6 billion per month to keep current child care providers in business.

Specifically, the Child Care Stabilization Fund would help child care providers and working families by:

  • Covering child care providers’ operating expenses and heightened costs of providing care due to the pandemic;
  • Ensuring that funding gets to providers quickly;
  • Requiring that providers continue to pay their staff;
  • Providing tuition and copayment relief for working families;
  • Promoting health and safety through compliance with public health guidance;
  • Prioritizing providers that serve underserved populations;
  • Ensuring grants are awarded equitably across child care settings; and
  • Conducting oversight through robust reporting requirements.

Joining Wyden, Merkley and Murray as co-sponsors on this bill are Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Bob Casey, D-Penn., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Doug Jones, D-Ala., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.

The Child Care is Essential Act is endorsed by more than 80 national organizations, including: Child Care Aware of America, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), First Five Years Fund, American Academy of Pediatrics, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus Campaign for Children, ZERO to Three, National Women’s Law Center, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Center for American Politics (CAP), National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Domestic Workers Alliance, Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), National Association for Family Child Care, National Military Family Association, National Organization for Women (NOW), National Partnership for Women & Families, YWCA USA.

A copy of the bill text is here.

A one-page summary is here.

A web version of this release is here.


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