Reed Delivers $8.1 Million in Child Care Funding for RI & Seeks Billions More to Strengthen America’s Post-Pandemic Child Care Infrastructure
Sen. Reed says federal funds will help cover child care assistance for essential workers and continued wages for child care providers; calls quality, affordable child care centers critical to children’s development and U.S. economy & seeks $50 billion to support struggling child care sector in next coronavirus pandemic response package
PROVIDENCE, RI – Recognizing that quality, affordable child care is essential to working families, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced $8.16 million in federal funding to support child care needs for essential workers across Rhode Island. The federal funds, which were included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will help ensure Rhode Island has the workforce needed to protect the public during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and those workers have access to quality child care that allows them to continue to serve. It also helps provide continued payments for child care providers and wages for child care staff to ensure providers can maintain or resume their operations.
“The closure of K-12 schools impacts all parents. But we have a special responsibility to ensure parents working on the frontlines of this pandemic have access to the child care they need while they're on the job. This funding may be used by the state to help essential workers and keep child care centers afloat,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations committee, who helped include $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in the CARES Act to assist child care providers and support child care for essential workers. The bill also includes $750 million in nationwide grants for Head Start, including up to $500 million to support summer programing in certain areas.
However, based on research and input from child care providers and families, and the need for increased sanitizing and social distancing policies going forward, it is clear that significant additional support for America’s child care and early education centers is urgently needed.
“America can’t reopen unless childcare centers reopen. It’s that simple. And in order to do that, we need to start investing now,” said Senator Reed, who is joining U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in calling for a $50 billion child care investment to help stabilize the child care system, keep providers in business, and ensure parents are able to go back to work when it is safe to do so.
The Senators penned a joint letter to Senate leadership today, writing: “We write to strongly urge you to prioritize funding childcare in the next legislative package that responds to the public health and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and emergency.”
Under the plan, the $50 billion for child care would be funneled through the existing Child Care Development Block Grant, to ensure that every state gets needed funding quickly and can use it efficiently. Rhode Island would receive an estimated $116 million to help cover post-pandemic child care costs under this proposal.
The joint letter notes: “A recent economic analysis estimates that at least $9.6 billion is needed each month to meet childcare needs for essential workers and to ensure existing providers who are forced to close during the pandemic can stay in business and reopen when it is safe to do so. The total economic impact of childcare is estimated to be $99 billion a year, and state childcare officials and local providers are in dire straits, clamoring for support beyond what Congress has already provided if they are able to come out on the other side of this crisis.”
Rhode Island has nearly 700 licensed private child care providers. Due to COVID-19, the state directed all child care centers in Rhode Island to close on March 16. However, starting in late March, the state made accommodations to ensure all workers who needed child care could access child care services.
The state partnered with Care.com to connect workers and caregivers who are subject to Care.com’s extensive background and safety checks. More information is available at: Care.com/rineed.