In Letter to Senate Leadership: Shaheen, Hassan & Group of Senators Say Their Plan to Stabilize the Child Care System, Keep Providers in Business & Support Working Parents Is Critical Part of Nation’s Response to Pandemic
(Washington, DC) – This week, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and a group of Senators in calling on Senate leadership to prioritize the inclusion of their plan for a $50 billion child care stabilization fund in the next coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package. The Child Care is Essential Act would stabilize the child care system, keep providers in business and ensure parents are able to go back to work when it is safe to return. It was recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In their letter, the Senators write that families in America already faced a serious child care crisis before the pandemic. And now, the virus is causing more problems for childcare providers and working families. The Senators warn that the U.S. will not be able to rebuild its economy if its child care system has collapsed beneath the economic burden of COVID-19.
“As we continue to navigate the devastating impacts of the pandemic, the National Association for the Education of Young Children estimates that 40% of child care providers expect they will close permanently without additional assistance,” wrote the Senators. “This would be devastating for children, families, child care providers, and businesses. Unfortunately, the CARES Act did not provide enough funds to stabilize the industry and the Paycheck Protection Program provided short-term relief to less than 6 percent of all child care providers. Child care is too essential to fail. The upcoming stimulus must invest in child care so that we can stabilize and secure American families and our economy.”
The letter can be read in full here.
Shaheen and Hassan joined Senators Murray (D-WA), Smith (D-MN) and Warren (D-MA) in June to introduce the Child Care is Essential Act. During a roundtable in Laconia last month at the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region, Senator Shaheen underscored the urgent need to prioritize child care in future COVID-19 response legislation. Earlier this summer, Senator Hassan led a virtual roundtable where she heard from New Hampshire child care providers and leaders about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Senators Shaheen and Hassan have worked to prioritize support for child care centers, including for the children of frontline workers. In March, Shaheen introduced legislation to assist health care workers with child and elder care so that they can continue to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Shaheen’s insistence, the CARES Act included flexibilities to allow child care grant dollars to be used to support child care for health care workers and other essential workers. New Hampshire has used the federal funding to help establish a child care system to support essential workers, so that they can continue their work on the frontlines of the crisis. Shaheen and Hassan previously called on Senate leadership to include strong financial support for the child care system in the next COVID-19 relief package. Senator Hassan also led her colleagues, including Senator Shaheen, in urging the Office of Child Care at the Department of Health and Human Services to take additional steps to expand child care options for health care workers and others on the frontlines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.