Sullivan, Klobuchar Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Address Shortage of Affordable, Quality Child Care
U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) reintroduced the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act to address the national shortage of affordable, quality child care, especially in rural communities. Many families are struggling to find access to available child care, and states are continuing to experience an expansion of "child care deserts" due to the noticeable decline in the number of child care providers, which is an issue that has only been exacerbated by this pandemic. In the House of Representatives, a companion bill was introduced by Representatives Josh Harder (D-Calif.) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.).
"Access to quality, affordable child care is key to a thriving economy, especially as we look to a strong post-pandemic economic future," Sullivan said. "I hear repeatedly from working Alaska parents that the lack of affordable child care is among their top concerns, and those concerns are overwhelmingly confirmed by the data. Unfortunately, this problem disproportionately impacts mothers striving to re-enter the workforce. Our legislation, which I have introduced with Senator Klobuchar, will help by offering grants focused on states hardest hit, like Alaska, to enhance workforce development among child care professionals, and improve facilities that serve families in child care deserts, particularly in our rural communities."
"Every family should have access to affordable and quality child care. Parents shouldn't be forced to decide between working to provide for their families and staying at home with their children," Klobuchar said. "The bipartisan Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act will help ensure that every family, including those in rural areas, is able to get their kids the child care they need, planning for their careers and their children."
"Right now, it costs more for a year of child care in California than a year at Stanislaus State. That's unaffordable for far too many Central Valley families," Harder said. "This bipartisan bill is another step toward ensuring that every working family here in the Central Valley has access to safe and affordable child care no matter where they come from or where they live. It means better care for our kids, better jobs for our workers, and a better future for our community."
"Prior to the pandemic, Southwest Washington was already considered a "child care desert,' and COVID has only magnified that challenge for families here and across the country. Working parents and guardians need solutions like the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act that will increase the availability and affordability of child care in Southwest Washington, no matter where families live. I'm pleased to help address the child care crisis from Congress as we emerge from this crisis and endeavor to get our economy back up and running," Herrera Beutler said.
The Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act would:
Help address the shortage of affordable child care and qualified child care professionals.
Provide competitive grants to states to support (1) the education, training, or retention of the child care workforce or (2) building, renovating, or expanding child care facilities in areas with child care shortages.
Require applicants to demonstrate how their projects would:
Increase the availability and affordability of quality child care, including during non-traditional work hours.
Help workers obtain portable, stackable credentials to foster increased mobility and opportunities for advancement in child care careers.
Enhance retention and compensation of quality child care professionals.
"While COVID-19 greatly exacerbated our nation's pre-existing child care crisis, it also shed light on how crucial the child care industry is to our economy, and how big a role it plays in our recovery. Without access to child care, parents won't be able to rejoin the workforce, and our economy will continue to suffer," said Roy Chrobocinski, director of federal government relations at Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). "Therefore, SCAN is thrilled that the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act is being reintroduced, for there is no better time to ensure families can access high-quality and affordable child care, no matter where they live. We applaud Senators Klobuchar and Sullivan bringing this issue front and center."