As Parents Grapple with Child Care During COVID-19, Reed Delivers Another $24M in RI Child Care Relief & Recovery Funding
PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island’s child care providers continue doing everything they can to safely provide a much-needed service for working parents and children -- including adhering to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines for enhanced social distancing, face mask wearing, frequent hand washing and sanitizing of surfaces, and daily health screening and temperature checks -- while protecting themselves, children, families, and the community.
Recognizing that quality, affordable child care is essential to working families and the economy, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined child care advocates and early childhood educators at the Beautiful Beginnings Child Care Center in Providence to announce an additional $23.9 million in federal funding to support child care needs across Rhode Island. These new federal funds were included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which included the $900 billion Coronavirus Response and Relief Act.
“Child care is a public good and I am grateful to our dedicated child care providers. They are essential workers who provide a strong foundation for learning and make it possible for others to do their jobs too. This new federal funding will help safely open more child care spots and facilities, protect children and adults, and open up doors of opportunity for working parents to earn a living and provide for their family,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. “Quality, affordable child care centers are critical to children’s development and the U.S. economy. This new funding boosts Rhode Island’s emergency pandemic child care relief efforts to over $32 million. I will continue working to provide additional support for the child care sector in the American Rescue Package currently pending before Congress.”
Senator Reed helped include $10 billion in Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds in the ‘coronabus’ appropriations law, along with another $250 million for Head Start. The law also provided $284 billion in loans for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $166 billion in direct payment checks, and an extension of unemployment benefits.
As a result of the dedicated child care funds, Rhode Island will receive nearly $23.9 million in federal CCDBG funding to help stabilize the state’s child care sector. This investment come on top of $8.16 million in federal funding Rhode Island received for CCDBG through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. And it also comes on top of the $13 million in CCDBG funds Rhode Island received in regular appropriations for fiscal year 2020.
Senator Reed noted these CCDBG funds will help provide continued payments for child care providers and wages for child care staff to ensure providers can maintain or resume their operations.
“This funding will deliver needed relief to overburdened child care providers who are working hard to remain open, as well as to help parents struggling to pay for child care. We must invest in expanding access to affordable, high-quality child care and ensure childhood educators can safely earn a living and are appropriately compensated so they can provide for their own families,” said Senator Reed.
Last Congress, Senator Reed joined U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) in cosponsoring the Child Care for Working Families Act (S. 568) to provide a long-term solution to child care. This legislation would address the current early learning and care crisis by ensuring that no family under 150 percent of state median income pays more than seven percent of their income on child care. Families would pay their fair share for care on a sliding scale, regardless of the number of children they have. Families under 75 percent of the state median income would not have to pay anything at all. The bill would also support universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year olds.
According to the research and advocacy organization Child Care Aware of America’s 2020 state fact sheet report, average child care costs can reach about $10,000 annually per child under four years old in Rhode Island, or $20,000 for two children.
Senator Reed also noted that the Biden Administration has prioritized $40 billion for child care funding in the American Rescue Plan, including:
- $25 billion emergency stabilization fund to support hard hit child care providers.
- $15 billion to expand access to child care.
- An increase in the child care tax credit to cover up to half of child care expenses for a total of $4,000 per child or $8,000 for two or more children.
According to the White House: “Almost a year into the pandemic, almost 11 million workers remain unemployed and around 4 million have been unemployed for six months or longer. More than 2 million women have left the labor force, many in the wake of school closures and challenges with child care. These job losses have been concentrated among lower wage workers. In addition, more than 15 million adults are behind on rental payments, nearly 24 million adults -- and as many as 12 million children -- are struggling with food insecurity, and more than 80 million adults are having trouble covering usual household expenses.”
Senator Reed noted that the American Rescue Plan funds would help hard-hit child care providers, including family child care homes, cover their costs and operate safely. The $25 billion emergency stabilization fund would help child care providers pay for rent, utilities, and payroll, as well as increased costs associated with the pandemic including personal protective equipment, ventilation supplies, smaller group sizes, and modifications to make the physical environment safer for children and workers. It would also expand child care assistance to help millions of families and help parents return to work.
If it is included in the final package that is signed into law, the $15 billion in additional CCDBG funds would result in Rhode Island receiving another $36 million to help Rhode Island child care centers and those who are struggling to afford child care.
Reed noted this additional assistance with child care costs would be a major help to the disproportionate number of women who left the labor force to take on caregiving duties reenter the workforce. And, this expanded investment will also help rebuild the supply of child care providers, and encourage states to take meaningful steps towards increasing the pay and benefits of child care workers.
And underneath President Biden’s proposal to expand child care tax credits on an emergency basis for one year, working families would get back a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, so that they can receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children.