Letter to Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States - Senator Murray, Majority of Senate Democrats Urge Action to Address Child Care Crisis Through Reconciliation

Letter

By: Tammy Baldwin, Patrick Leahy, Tim Kaine, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jack Reed, Bob Casey, Jr., Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jacky Rosen, Martin Heinrich, Ben Lujan, Jr., Cory Booker, Bob Menendez, Jeanne Shaheen, Tina Smith, Amy Klobuchar, Angus King, Jr., Chris Van Hollen, Jr., Ben Cardin, Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth, Dick Durbin, Mazie Hirono, Raphael Warnock, Chris Coons, Chris Murphy, Richard Blumenthal, Alex Padilla, Dianne Feinstein, Mark Pocan, Marilyn Strickland, Kim Schrier, Pramila Jayapal, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larsen, Suzan DelBene, Peter Welch, Stacey Plaskett, Jennifer Wexton, Don Beyer, Jr., Donald McEachin, Elaine Luria, Lloyd Doggett II, Eddie Johnson, Sylvia Garcia, Joaquin Castro, Veronica Escobar, Steve Cohen, Jim Langevin, David Cicilline, Mike Doyle, Jr., Conor Lamb, Chrissy Houlahan, Mary Scanlon, Madeleine Dean, Dwight Evans, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Shontel Brown, Marcy Kaptur, Joyce Beatty, Mondaire Jones, Jamaal Bowman, Ritchie Torres, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velázquez, Grace Meng, Steven Horsford, Dina Titus, Teresa Leger Fernandez, Melanie Stansbury, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Mikie Sherrill, Albio Sires, Tom Malinowski, Donald Norcross, Annie Kuster, Alma Adams, Kathy Manning, Deborah Ross, Emanuel Cleaver II, Ilhan Omar, Betty McCollum, Angie Craig, Brenda Lawrence, Rashida Tlaib, Debbie Dingell, Haley Stevens, Chellie Pingree, Jamie Raskin, Anthony Brown, John Sarbanes, Dutch Ruppersberger, Bill Keating, Stephen Lynch, Ayanna Pressley, Katherine Clark, Jake Auchincloss, Lori Trahan, Sharice Davids, André Carson, Jan Schakowsky, Danny Davis, Chuy Garcia, Marie Newman, Robin Kelly, Bobby Rush, Cindy Axne, Kai Kahele, Carolyn Bourdeaux, Lucy McBath, Nikema Williams, Sanford Bishop, Jr., Frederica Wilson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Kathy Castor, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Eleanor Norton, Jahana Hayes, Jim Himes, Diana DeGette, Sara Jacobs, Katie Porter, Nanette Barragán, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda Sánchez, Karen Bass, Norma Torres, Jimmy Gomez, Grace Napolitano, Adam Schiff, Judy Chu, Julia Brownley, Salud Carbajal, Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna, Jackie Speier, Barbara Lee, Mark DeSaulnier, Doris Matsui, Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick, Terri Sewell, Barry Moore, Patty Murray
Date: April 6, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

Dear President Biden:

We write to thank you for your commitment to cutting the cost and increasing the supply of high-quality child care for families across the country. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate shortages, with parents unable to find child care and businesses struggling to find workers, contributing to supply chain bottlenecks and inflation. Addressing our nation's child care crisis remains essential to boosting labor force participation among mothers, helping lower everyday expenses for families and child care providers who are facing higher costs due to inflation, and ensuring all children access the benefits of quality child care that support positive physical and brain development. We stand ready to work with you to enact legislation through reconciliation that ensures middle-class and working families do not spend more than 7 percent of their income on child care, expands access to pre-K, and invests in the early childhood workforce and infrastructure.

As you know, the high costs of child care and the difficulty of finding quality, affordable child care are challenges facing too many families across the country. The annual price of center-based child care for an infant exceeds the annual cost of in-state tuition at a public four-year university in every region of the country. In addition to overwhelming costs, approximately 460,000 families are without reliable child care because the child care sector has lost over 1 in 9 jobs since the start of the pandemic. Low industry wages are driving these challenges, with the average child care worker earning a median hourly wage of $12.24, and nearly 25 percent of child care workers requiring another job just to afford basic needs.

Now is the time to make additional comprehensive, long-term investments in affordable, high-quality child care to build on the critical but largely short-term investments made through the American Rescue Plan. Relief funding has served as a critical tool for stabilizing child care programs and preventing widespread permanent program closures during the pandemic. However, a recent survey of early childhood educators found that 75 percent of respondents expect that the end of stabilization grants will have a negative effect on their programs. Notably, 89 percent of respondents familiar with the House-passed provisions to ensure that working families do not spend more than 7 percent of their income on child care and that child care workers earn a living wage believe those investments will secure the future of their programs, while experts predict that families stand to save thousands of dollars a year.

It is clear that child care and early learning investments are an integral part of our nation's strategy for supporting a robust economy, lowering costs for families, and ensuring the long-term success of our children. Lowering the cost of child care will allow working families to allocate money to other pressing family needs. Increasing child care industry wages and access to training will help with the recruitment and retention of child care professionals, creating and supporting millions of jobs for women, especially women of color. Improving access to child care will help working parents rejoin the workforce. One study found that, as of May 2021, the pandemic forced more than 1 in 3 female caregivers to reduce their hours or leave the workforce, which the majority of women said they could not afford to do. Experts predict that approximately 1 million more workers would be in the labor force today if the labor participation rate of mothers with young children could be raised to match the participation rate of women with school-age children. With your leadership and support, we are ready to make these investments a reality.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to working together to enact legislation that supports America's children, economy, and early learning and child care programs.

Sincerely,


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