August 4, 2023

Letter asks for federal aid to continue child care aided by pandemic-era grants

A letter from members of Congress to President Joe Biden asks for $16 billion annually to help the child care industry.

The letter, which had 32 co-signatories in both the House and Senate, asks for the funding since some COVID-19 era grants are set to expire September 31.

The two New Mexico Senators, Democrats Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich, were among the signatories.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that the $24 billion investment from the Child Care Stabilization Grants as part of the American Rescue Plan Act helped 220,000 childcare providers and saved more than a million child care jobs.

“But the end of this funding will only worsen the crisis, and we urge you to join us in calling for an investment of $16 billion a year by any and all means possible – including supporting Congress in efforts to extend the Child Care Stabilization grants passed in ARPA, and through emergency funding for child care in any supplemental appropriations package put forth by the Administration,” the letter stated.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, several economic relief packages included funding for the child care industry. One of these was the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act which provided the Child Care and Development Block Grant with $3.5 billion. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act gave $10 billion to the child care industry and ARPA provided $15 billion for the CCDBG and an additional $24 billion for stabilization grants, the letter states.

Recently, CCDBG received $8 billion from the recent appropriations process, which was an increase of $1.85 billion from FY 22.

“However, with the passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act in June, Congress is already limited on discretionary spending. We have an urgent need to further stabilize an industry that has been long underfunded and struggling,” the letter said.

The child care industry was already suffering before the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 50 counties in 2018 considered child care deserts, or where there is more demand for child care than there are providers.

“The pandemic emergency relief provided a much-needed lifeline to the child care industry, but it is crucial that, at minimum, we sustain that level of investment to ensure the industry’s survival and prevent a new emergency. Our providers, workers, children, and families need your help. We urge you to work with Congress, utilizing every possible tool, including any emergency supplemental appropriations package, to provide $16 billion to prevent the looming child care funding cliff,” the letter states.

Almost all of the Senate signatories were Democrats except for two independents, who caucus with Democrats. Another 114 members of the House of Representatives signed onto the letter.