Sign-On Letter (Jacobs and Bonamici)

Jacobs, Bonamici, and Colleagues Lead Letter Signed by 127 House Members to Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi Urging Inclusion of Child Care in Reconciliation

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53); Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01), Chair of the Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services; and colleagues sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urging the Senate to include robust child care investments in any upcoming budget reconciliation package. The letter expresses support for the Child Care Reconciliation Plan spearheaded by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Signed by more than half of the House Democratic Caucus, the letter is co-led by Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), founding co-chair of the Pre-K and Child Care Caucus; Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06); Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT-04), Chairman of the Select Committee on Economic Disparity Fairness and Growth; and Congressman Donald McEachin (D-VA-04).

The child care crisis has created significant challenges for families, providers, businesses, and the economy. Over 30% of families lived in child care deserts before the pandemic, and 40% of parents report going into debt to pay for child care. Meanwhile, nearly 10% of child care providers have closed since the start of the pandemic, and child care programs that remain open are struggling to attract and retain staff due to poverty level wages.

The Murray-Kaine Child Care Reconciliation Plan would make historic investments in the nation’s child care assistance program, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which would expand access to child care to more than one million new children and their families. The proposal includes funding to expand the supply of child care facilities, establish and expand preschool programs, and raise compensation for early childhood educators, including Head Start teachers. Notably, the proposal would create a pilot program to allow participating states to offer child care assistance to families earning up to 250% of state median income and cap families’ child care expenses at 7% of family income – priorities supported by the House-passed Build Back Better Act.

The letter is endorsed by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), MomsRising, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), the National Education Association (NEA), ZERO TO THREE, Save the Children, Center for American Progress (CAP), First Focus Campaign for Children, The Education Trust, AFSCME, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

“In San Diego and all across the country, the child care crisis is crushing families. My colleagues and I hear from our constituents everyday about the very real cost of this crisis – as parents go into debt to afford their child’s care or are forced to leave the workforce altogether – all while child care providers are still struggling to get by,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs. “Our children, families, and early childhood workforce deserve better. Ending this crisis and fighting for significant investments in our child care system are my top priorities in Congress, which is why I’m so grateful to Senator Murray and Senator Kaine for spearheading this proposal in the Senate, and why I’m proud to be leading my colleagues in the House to support it.”

“As a mom and policymaker, I know that children thrive when they have access to high-quality care and early childhood education,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “We understand the challenges families and providers face, we understand the benefits of quality child care, and we understand that we must take action. I’m glad to join Rep. Jacobs in supporting Chair Murray and Senator Kaine’s proposal, which will dedicate funding to increase wages for Head Start staff, expand access to high-quality preschool, and help about one million more children and their families afford the cost of child care. An investment in our care economy must be a fundamental component of upcoming reconciliation legislation. Congress must get this done for our children and their families, for the essential workers caring for them, and for the economy.”

“COVID-19 put a unique burden on Texas’s child care providers, who were underpaid and overworked even before the pandemic,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. “As we work to rebuild our nation’s Infrastructure of Opportunity, we need to make real investments in child care to help parents get back to work, create good jobs, and set every child up for the future they deserve. I’m proud to join my House colleagues to press for the inclusion of child care and early learning investments in the next reconciliation package.”

“I had my first child while serving in the Air Force, and I was soon confronted with the reality that child care options around my base were limited and expensive,” said Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan. “Unfortunately, this hardship was one of the reasons I decided to separate from service. While my experience was tied to my military career, this is not uncommon for women and men in all types of careers and it has only gotten worse. As the Senate considers additional legislation to support working families, we must include a robust child care package. Simply put, affordable child care supports a robust workforce. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this effort to support Pennsylvania families and all Americans as they grow their families and return to the workforce.”

“As we look to get our economy back on track, we cannot leave behind the working families who have struggled to find or afford child care,” said Congressman Jim Himes. “This investment offers meaningful support to help parents feel comfortable going back to work, without sacrificing high-quality learning for their children. I’m proud to join my colleagues in calling for Congress to pass this essential proposal.”

“Investing in our children through comprehensive childcare options and early learning education programs is imperative to our continued economic recovery,” said Congressman A. Donald McEachin. “Our labor force was drastically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, as American workers – especially mothers – were forced to leave their jobs to care for their children. By including robust investments for child care in the upcoming reconciliation package, we can lessen the burden families face, help get more Americans back into the workforce, and raise wages for child care workers. I am proud to join my House colleagues in supporting these initiatives outlined by Senators Tim Kaine and Patty Murray. Together, we will continue fighting for better resources and viable alternatives for American families.”

See NHSA’s support for the Murray-Kaine proposal here.

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