U.S. Senator Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) recently unveiled bill to provide assistance for child care providers in Iowa, and across the country, during COVID-19 has gained additional support from Ernst’s colleagues in both the House and Senate. Ernst’s bill is also included in the new COVID-19 relief package, the HEALS Act, that was released earlier this week.
Since Ernst introduced the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020 with the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the bill has been co-sponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Todd Young (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Richard Burr (R-NC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Boozman (R-AR), and Martha McSally (R-AZ).
“Iowa families depend on the survival of our existing child care providers. In my conversations with our moms and dads and providers across the state, I’ve heard consistently—even before COVID-19—about the struggle to find quality, affordable child care, and I’ve worked to fix that,” said Senator Ernst. “Unfortunately, this pandemic has only made our child care crisis worse. This new proposal will help relieve anxiety for families by stabilizing the child care sector and ensuring our kids are in safe environments, and I’m glad to have my colleagues join me in this important effort.”
“If you are a working mom or dad, this bill helps you find child care so you can go back to work. Our child care centers operate on a very thin margin and they have reduced revenue because they don’t have as many clients these days. This bill will provide money so that child care providers can stay open and provide safe environments to two-thirds of the children in the United States under the age six who have parents in the workforce,” said Chairman Alexander.
“During the height of coronavirus, sixty percent of child care centers were forced to shut their doors. As Hoosiers begin to return to work, we must make sure our child care providers are supported in order to reopen safely and meet demand,” said Senator Young. “Our Back to Work Child Care Grants Act will support the economic recovery of child care facilities so parents can return to work knowing their children are in safe hands.”
“Child care providers throughout Maine are facing decreased enrollment and even closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Collins. “This legislation would provide much needed financial assistance and support to child care providers, helping to ensure that children have access to a safe learning environment during the pandemic and as parents and guardians return to work.”
“COVID-19 has caused considerable strain and major disruptions that the school closures this spring have placed on our children, parents, teachers, and communities in North Carolina,” said Senator Tillis. “I am glad to see the inclusion of our proposal to support child care providers so they can continue to provide critical, affordable child care for working mothers and fathers in North Carolina. This will help ensure they have the resources needed to protect the health of children and staff.”
“During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Montana’s working moms and dads need access to affordable child care services so they can work to put food on the table,” said Senator Daines. “This bill provides the critical support needed for Montana child care providers to ensure that their essential services are readily available and affordable for Montana families.”
“We need to take steps to ensure caregivers can continue to provide this vital service Arkansas parents rely on. As parents seek to return to work, they need an available and safe environment to bring their children. This legislation is critical to meeting the needs of hardworking families and helping providers continue operations,” said Senator Boozman.
“In order for Arizonans to get back to work this fall, we need child care services to safely reopen and stay open,” said Senator McSally. “Over 60 percent of child care services across the country have closed since the pandemic started. I am pleased that our bill to provide targeted relief to child care providers was included in the Senate’s next coronavirus relief package. This will help provide safe environments for Arizona children and give Arizona parents the freedom to return to work.”
Representative Tom Reed (R-NY) has introduced companion legislation in the House with bipartisan support.
“We care about our nation’s children because they are the future of this great country. As this health and economic crisis continues to disrupt daily life, child care providers have been acutely hurt by the pandemic,” said Representative Reed. “It is only fair we act to ensure providers have the resources they need so working parents can continue to access the local child care services their families deserve. This bipartisan legislation will support children’s early educational development and help our economy get back on track.”
The Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020 supports the economic recovery and helps parents go back to work by providing:
- Critical resources to help child care providers reopen and stay open
- Provides 9-month financial assistance for providers to open, welcome children safely, and ensure a robust child care sector is available for families
- Allows states to design state-specific plans to support child care centers, operators, providers in their state
- Sends funds to child care providers more quickly without administrative red tape
- Safe environments for children
- Requires all providers receiving assistance to follow all state and local health and safety guidelines
- Requires states to ensure a diverse field of child care setting options for parents, including center-based, family child care, and faith-based options
The HEALS Act also includes additional support for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, which Ernst has been calling for.