March 30, 2021

Wyden, Warren, Smith, Brown, & Casey Announce Plans to Introduce New Bill to Build Child Care Infrastructure and Availability

Senators call for permanent funding to be included in upcoming spending packages moving through Congress; Senators will use respective positions on Finance Committee to urge action

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, United States Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown, (D-Ohio), Bob Casey, (D-Pa.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced that they plan to introduce a new bill allocating mandatory funding to build child care availability over the long term and treat child care like the critical infrastructure that it is for families. 

The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating to the child care sector, with an estimated two in five providers at risk of closing permanently. The American Rescue Plan provided more than $40 billion to stabilize the sector. Even before the pandemic, though, many families faced "child care deserts" where there were not sufficient affordable, high-quality child care slots for every child who needed one. 

"Just like roads and bridges that allow people to get to work, child care is critical infrastructure that makes all other work possible," said Senator Warren. "Our goal can't just be to stabilize an already broken system. We need long-term, structural investments to our child care system and we're calling for this proposal to be included in the upcoming spending packages moving through Congress." 

"Child care is an essential building block of human infrastructure, and it must be shored up with resources so that working families can access the affordable, quality child care in their neighborhoods that they need," Wyden said. "Building on the child care support secured in the American Rescue Plan, now is the moment for permanent federal investment to build a stronger, more equitable child care system, brick by brick."

"If parents don't have quality, affordable childcare, how can we expect them to be able to go to school, work, or make other aspects of their lives function? Childcare is basic infrastructure for families and the economy-it gives a solid foundation toward building economic opportunity," said Sen. Smith. "I've been pushing to support the childcare system and keep families, providers and our economy afloat during this pandemic, but it is clear we need more than a lifeline for childcare. We need long-term investments so that the childcare sector can actually build back better for the future."

"Closing a childcare center not only impacts the children and the workers at that facility, but it also means a parent has to consider other options like leaving the workforce to ensure their children are cared for," said Brown. "The pandemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities in our childcare system and made clear that we need comprehensive investments to get the industry back on solid footing. Building out our childcare infrastructure and investing in the childcare workforce will help strengthen the childcare industry and keep more working families on the job."

The Senators' new child care bill will help close the child care gap by providing new permanent Federal funding to allow child care providers to invest in facility upgrades, support new child care providers to open, help existing providers expand or upgrade their programs, train and invest in the child care workforce, and provide other technical and financial support to child care providers. 

The legislation will: 

  • Expand Mandatory Child Care Funding: Permanently increase annual funding to the Child Care Entitlement to States (CCES) program that received an emergency infusion of  approximately $633 million per year in the American Rescue Plan.

  • Provide Mandatory Funding to Improve Child Care Supply, Quality and Affordability: Create permanent grants to improve child care supply, quality and affordability, particularly in areas that lack options for affordable child care.