The Biden administration is directing $39 billion in aid funds to states to assist child care providers in remaining in operation or reopening, calling it the single largest expenditure in child care in US history.
The money, which comes from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed last month, will also help women get back to work and boost the economy, according to the White House.
The funds would be used to pay rent, mortgages, taxes, utilities costs, payroll, and debts accrued as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The funds could also be used to purchase personal protective equipment and put in place safety measures including better ventilation. States may also offer direct grants to families to help them offset the costs of child care.
According to the administration, hundreds of thousands of child care providers and early childhood educators will benefit, serving more than 5 million children.
The President and congressional Democrats, who approved the relief bill earlier this year without Republican support, see bolstering the nation’s child care and long-term care networks as a top priority. The administration is also working on a massive “care economy” plan that will include more funding for child care, caregiving, universal pre-K, and staff hit hardest by the pandemic-fueled economic upheaval, which includes $400 billion for elder care in its nearly $2 trillion infrastructure proposal.
“In America, child care should be readily available and affordable for all of those who need it, child care workers should be paid fairly and treated with dignity and respect, and small business owners who run child care centers must be fully supported,” Vice President Kamala Harris said Thursday, noting that many who work in the field are women and people of color.
Biden’s American Rescue Plan also includes a one-year extended child care tax credit and an augmented child tax credit to help families pay expenses. The former allows parents earning less than $125,000 a year to receive up to half of $8,000 in child care expenses for one child, or $16,000 for two or more children under the age of 13. A partial credit is available for those making up to $440,000 per year.
The epidemic has had a major impact on child care services. According to the White House, more than a fifth of services have remained closed, citing a study by Procare Solutions, a child care management software company. According to a December report cited by the White House from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, three out of five have lowered costs by layoffs, furloughs, or pay cuts.
According to Harris, there are 164,000 fewer child care workers now than there were last year.
Women have been leaving the workforce in large numbers, mostly due to the need to care for children whose day care centers or schools have closed or are operating on reduced hours. According to federal statistics, nearly 2 million women have left the work force since the public health emergency began.