On July 30, Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to pass two bills to provide support to families who need childcare and support for childcare providers to enable the safe reopening of the economy.
The House passed a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Kilmer, the Child Care is Essential Act (H.R. 7027), to create a Child Care Stabilization Fund investing in childcare and ensuring providers across Washington have additional resources to safely reopen. Through the fund, approximately $838 million would be invested in Washington state’s childcare system – helping providers stay open, keeping employees on payroll, and ensuring childcare facilities are able to safely operate under new guidelines.
Additionally, the House passed the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act (H.R. 7327) to provide ongoing federal investments and tax subsidies for working families, bringing quality childcare to more working families and providing new tax credits to support child care providers affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“This pandemic has been hard on parents and on kids. As we take steps to re-open the economy, it is absolutely essential we are ensuring folks who are returning to work have the access they need to safe, dependable, and high-quality childcare for their kids,” said Rep. Kilmer. “As a dad, I know personally how important this will be as we look towards the fall – particularly if schools go virtual. Access to childcare is important to families – and to economic development. Passing these bills today will help families in our region who need support – and help those who are working in childcare who have also felt the strain of this pandemic. I’m hopeful these bills will be passed by the Senate to help families and providers ensure safe childcare in our communities.”
According to the Center for American Progress, prior to the spread of the coronavirus, Washington was not providing care for every child that needed it. With 3.78 children waiting per one childcare slot, working families have lacked access to the safe, quality childcare that they need. The spread of COVID-19 has only worsened this problem. Since the pandemic, it is now estimated that there are 5.32 children waiting per childcare slot. Without robust federal investments soon, the childcare industry is expected to struggle to provide the care needed to help Americans return to work.
The Child Care Is Essential Act creates a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund to provide grant funding to childcare providers to stabilize the childcare sector and support providers to safely reopen and operate. These grants would help providers and working families by:
- Ensuring that the grants adequately support providers’ operating expenses and funding gets to them quickly;
- Requiring that providers continue to pay their staff at the same compensation level as pre-COVID-19;
- Providing tuition and copayment relief for working families;
- Promoting health and safety through compliance with public health guidance;
- Prioritizing providers that serve underserved populations;
- Ensuring grants are awarded equitably across childcare settings; and
- Conducting oversight through robust reporting requirements.
The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act provides ongoing federal investments and tax subsidies to help bring quality childcare within the reach of families to support ongoing employment. The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act:
- Makes significant, ongoing federal investments in childcare to support children and working families, with $10 billion for infrastructure to improve childcare safety, $850 million to support family care for essential workers, and increased funding for federal childcare programs.
- Provides improved and fairer tax benefits for families and working caregivers, enhancing the child and dependent care tax credit (CDCTC), expanding the dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSA), and creating a new tax credit to help employees access quality, affordable childcare.
- Supports struggling childcare providers, with a new refundable payroll tax credit for childcare providers.
- Incentivizes employers to keep childcare workers on payroll, by expanding the employee retention tax credit (ERTC).
A fact sheet on the Child Care is Essential Act is available here.
A fact sheet on the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act is available here.