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Across the country, after much-needed federal funding ended, families and workers face a crisis that threatens child care programs, the nation’s economy, and the well-being of American children.
As part of the landmark American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Child Care Stabilization Grant invested $24 billion in child care providers through September 30, 2023, to prevent a child care crisis and bolster local economies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The end of this funding has accelerated our nationwide child care crisis and threatens to disproportionately affect minority and low-income communities.
At Caring Across Generations’ first-ever CareFest last week, advocates and experts from across the country urged lawmakers to prioritize care, especially child care funding, demanding that Congress swiftly pass President Biden’s emergency aid request of $16 billion in child care funding.
White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden on child care:
Senator Laphonza Butler, D-CA on child care:
Here’s what folks are reading across the country about how the loss of federal funding has had a real and devastating impact on families:
WYPR: …Fatima Whitmore is the lead teacher at Tender Tots, a family-provided child care center in Baltimore County. She says three out of eight families dropped out of the program after pandemic-era aid expired because they could no longer afford the $250 weekly tuition. “And it’s not because they’re at a bar or bowling. They really have to get gas; they really needed groceries,” Whitmore said. …Without full enrollment and full tuition, Tender Tots is being forced to cut expenses. “What we offer the children didn’t change, although the enrollment dropped. We still have to prepare meals, we still give them one on one learning time,” Whitmore said. “So, maybe we can’t have hot meals every day, we may have to turn to cereal. It’s just a balancing budget plan we do weekly.” The center stopped paying for cable, and had to lay off the only other employee helping Whitmore and the director. …Roberts-King said the center is working to find other partners and funding sources to fill the American Rescue Plan gap. “When one budget line goes down, then another budget line has to be picked up,” she said. “And what we’re trying to do is partner with anyone who we can to help get money to families to afford the best quality care for their children.”
Public News Service: A new report found licensed child care programs in Utah are only able to serve about 36% of all children younger than 6 whose parents are working. Mike Wade, owner of First Steps Childcare and Preschool in Salt Lake City, said he views the child care sector as being “stuck somewhere between the private sector and the social service sector.” Wade considers child care an essential service, especially for mothers who want to work. …Wade recognized the state “stepped up during the pandemic,” thanks to stabilization grants which were helpful. The report states the funds were cut by 75% last month and will end by next spring, putting the progress made at risk.
Washington Post: “Zastoupil knew she couldn’t maintain her employees, and therefore the business, without this subsidy. She could not endure the hours required to run the program entirely by herself. Raising tuition to compensate for lost grant money was not viable, either. Reluctantly, on May 19, she closed her doors for good. … When Zasty’s closed, 13 children in the Milton area lost their day-care arrangements.” “Across Wisconsin, 168 child-care businesses, which collectively had a regulated capacity to care for nearly 5,000 kids, closed in the three months following the grant cuts, according to state data collected by Corrine Hendrickson, a child-care provider and advocate of additional funding.”
In South Dakota:
KELO: The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church confirmed to KELOLAND News it plans to stop offering child care services from its location in southeastern Sioux Falls. Michael Johnson, pastor at Good Shepherd, said rising costs and worker shortages have been the biggest challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic. Good Shepherd received $360,000 in American Rescue Plan Act child care stabilization grant money, according to the DSS. Johnson confirmed the child care provider received the government funding and was grateful for it. “It helped us stay open and pay employees during and after covid and was used for those purposes,” Johnson said.”
Daily Progress: “We know the need is there and the demand is there,” [Rupa Murthy, the CEO of YWCA Richmond] said. What “keeps me up at night,” she said, is that when the financial cliff comes, it will largely affect families who cannot afford the $15,000 to $20,000 a year for high-quality child care. “Specifically Black and brown women, who have traditionally been disadvantaged by the systems in place, will not have the ability to access affordable or free child care for their families as they go off to work,” Murthy said.
To schedule an interview with a member of the Care Can’t Wait coalition about the ongoing child care crisis, please email Jess Kelsey at email@example.com.
CARE CAN’T WAIT is a coalition of organizations, stakeholders and advocates committed to building a comprehensive, 21st century care infrastructure — that means robust investments to expand access to childcare, paid family and medical leave (PFML), and home- and community-based services (HCBS), and ensure good jobs for the care workforce. The coalition is led by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); American Association of People with Disabilities; Be A Hero; Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy; Caring Across Generations; Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Child Care for Every Family Network; Community Change; Family Values @ Work; MomsRising; National Domestic Workers Alliance; National Partnership for Women & Families; National Women’s Law Center; Paid Leave for All; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); The Arc; and ZERO TO THREE.