Childcare is on a Cliff's Edge
When a binge-worthy tv show ends a season with shocking uncertainty or a surprise revelation, fans are left on the edge of their seats waiting for the next part of the story. Fictional cliffhangers can be exciting, leaving you wanting more. But when it’s real life, and when the livelihoods of our families hang in the balance, a cliffhanger is the LAST thing we want to experience! Yet right now, Congress is pushing us closer and closer to a fiscal cliff with cuts that would cause millions of families to lose access to child care.
The dual forces of an already-crumbling child care system from chronic underfunding and a global pandemic have thrust child care further into a state of crisis. Congress took the bold and necessary steps to invest critical funds to stabilize the child care market which saved our system from total collapse during the height of the pandemic. But those funds expire this month - and without continued investment, child care providers, families, and our economy are headed toward a giant cliff.
All told, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) stabilization dollars that saved the child care sector from collapse are expiring with projections that 3.2 million children could lose their child care as a result.
But help is on the way! The Child Care Stabilization Act was introduced today to provide at least $16 billion per year in emergency child care dollars to address this, while laying the groundwork for the sustained and transformative funding needed to ensure high-quality, affordable child care is accessible for all families.
Investing in American families should be the top priority of an appropriations process that aims to help our economy, not push our families toward disaster! The U.S. budget is a reflection of the country’s priorities and values, and actually investing in American families and our economy looks like appropriating:
- $8.7 billion (a $700 million increase over FY2023) investment in the Child Care Development Block Grant. At least $12.2 billion for Head Start, which matches the Senate’s proposed funding levels. A proposed cut in the House version of the bill would remove 80,000 kids’ access to this critical program.
- $7.3 billion (or whatever amount is required) to fully fund WIC, serve the projected caseload, and prevent waitlists or cuts to the program.
- Necessary investments in maternal health and maternal mental health programs to safeguard the advancements made in recent years.
Yet Republican leadership in Congress have not been very concerned about doing what is best for our families or loved ones, or businesses and the economy. Instead of addressing this looming (but preventable) crisis, they are adamant about literally being the worst by slashing funds for education, child care, maternal health, and nutrition programs that will hinder businesses and leave families behind.
Any child care cuts would be especially disastrous for moms and businesses, because three years after a global pandemic tanked the employment rates of women to historic levels, women are finally returning to the workforce. This past June, the share of working-age women between 25 and 54 who are working or looking for work hit 77.8% — an all-time high. But if these childcare cuts go through, moms will once again be left behind and pushed out of the labor force.
The needs of children and families shouldn’t be used as a political plot device with major real world consequences. Child care is already unaffordable for far too many families, with some reporting paying a third of their take home pay to child care  and child care already rivaling the cost of college in most states . Babies and toddlers make up 3.4% of the U.S. population but receive just 1.5% of all federal spending . Yet, despite this, House Republicans are looking to further reduce child care. Make it make sense! (spoiler alert: it doesn’t make sense).
American mothers, families, and businesses are sick of being left hanging. Access to care is critical to the ability to work and provide for our loved ones. Let's raise our voices together to say no cuts and no cliffs, congress must support child care!
P.S. Want to amplify your impact? Click here now to send a Letter to the Editor to your local paper. This is a powerful and easy way to make sure our elected leaders get the message to prioritize saving child care!