Democrats saved the child care sector from collapse during the pandemic with vital stabilization funding—which helped 220,000 providers stay afloat and serve as many as 10 million kids—but with funding set to expire September 30, the child care sector may once again be pushed to the brink, with potentially dire consequences for families and our economy
The Child Care Stabilization Act would extend vital stabilization funding to prevent a potential crisis for families and our economy by ensuring child care providers can continue serving families across the country
***WATCH: Murray, Sanders, Clark, colleagues rally with providers and parents in push to extend funding***
Washington (September 13, 2023) - Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (MA-05), Representative Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, Representative Bobby Scott (VA-03), ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), and Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16) in introducing the Child Care Stabilization Act to extend vital federal child care stabilization funding—which is set to expire at the end of this month—and ensure that child care providers can keep their doors open and continue serving children and families in every part of the country.
When the pandemic pushed the already-fragile child care sector to the brink of collapse, Democrats in Congress responded by delivering historic federal investments to save the sector from collapse and prevent families from losing their child care spots—including $24 billion in child care stabilization funding. The funding has made an enormous difference for families across the country—keeping 220,000 child care providers afloat over the last few years and saving child care slots for up to 10 million kids nationwide—but it is set to run out on September 30, 2023, threatening to once again push the sector to the brink, with dire consequences for families and our nation’s economy.
The Child Care Stabilization Act would prevent a potential crisis when funding expires at the end of the month by providing $16 billion in mandatory funding each year for the next five years to continue the successful Child Care Stabilization Grant program. This investment would ensure child care providers continue to receive a stable and reliable source of funding to help them deliver high-quality and affordable child care for working families across the country.
“There was a child care crisis even before the pandemic—and failing to extend these critical investments from the American Rescue Plan will push child care even further out of reach for millions of families and jeopardize our strong economic recovery,” said Senator Murray. “This is an urgent economic priority at every level: child care is what allows parents to go to work, businesses to hire workers, and it’s an investment in our kids’ futures. The child care industry holds up every sector of our economy—and Congress must act now.”
“We have a child care crisis in America that we have got to address. If Congress does not act soon, over 3 million kids are in danger of losing their child care slots, over 230,000 child care workers could lose their jobs, and child care facilities all over our country could be forced to close their doors,” said Senator Sanders. “That would be unacceptable. In the richest country in the history of the world, we can and we must make sure that every kid in America has access to high quality, affordable child care. If we can afford to spend over $1 trillion on tax breaks for the top one percent and large corporations making record-breaking profits, we can afford to provide working class families with the child care they desperately need. This legislation is needed now more than ever.”
“America’s families are facing a child care crisis – and is imperative that we step up to stop it. Ensuring access to affordable and accessible child care is essential; as our economy strengthens under President Biden, we need to continue to ensure all Americans – especially women – can access the workforce, a critical aspect of which is reliable access to dependable child care,” said Leader Schumer. “The Child Care Stabilization Act will avert the nightmare scenario too many American families stay up at night worrying about by providing mandatory funding to support high-quality childcare. As Majority Leader, I will always fight for America’s children and families.”
“Too many families are struggling to find reliable, affordable child care or preschool and feel like they’re on their own. The child care crisis predated the pandemic, but the funding provided in the American Rescue Plan kept centers afloat during their darkest hours,” said Senator Casey. “Without new investments, parents will have a harder time finding care, which in turn impacts businesses and local economies. It’s time for the government to step up and set up our kids and families for success by making a meaningful investment in child care and the child care workforce.”
“The lack of affordable child care in America is holding our families, workers, and economy back,” said Senator Kaine. “Parents are locked out of the workforce because they can’t find care for their kids. Workers who are passionate about child care are being squeezed out of their field because they can’t pay their bills. If we let critical child care stabilization funding expire, things are only going to get worse. Millions of families who will otherwise lose their child care are depending on Congress passing this legislation to extend these urgently-needed funds.”
“Across the country, affordable child care is out of reach for too many families, stopping parents from getting back to work, hurting our economy, and preventing kids from getting the strong start they deserve,” said Senator Baldwin. “I was proud to help address this crisis and expand access to child care with the American Rescue Plan, delivering long-overdue relief for providers and middle-class families. But now, that progress is on the line. We must pass this legislation to lower costs for working families, help Wisconsin businesses meet the demand for workers, and grow our economy.”
“During the pandemic, Democrats answered the call of parents and providers and invested $39 billion into our child care system. This historic relief funding allowed parents to return to work, businesses to survive, and our economy to recover,” said Democratic Whip Clark. “We can’t turn back now. Child care is economic infrastructure—it is critical to growing the economy by growing the middle class. We must urgently enact the Child Care Stabilization Act to protect the financial security of families and workers and maintain our progress in the fight for affordable, high-quality care for all.”
“When parents go to work, they need affordable and reliable child care,” said Ranking Member DeLauro. “As the Top Democrat on the Labor Health and Human Services Subcommittee on Appropriations, I understand this intimately and have worked hard to increase the annual appropriation to the Child Care and Development Block Grant by more than 52 percent over the last 4 years. We must work to safeguard and strengthen these investments so families can thrive. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Child Care Stabilization Act, legislation that will extend grants to help support the child care industry and ensure that children and families have access to the child care they need.”
“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress provided critical funding to save the child care sector from collapse and ensure access to affordable child care for working families. This essential relief was a powerful reminder that, when we invest in affordable child care, we improve the strength and future of children, workers, and our economy,” said Ranking Member Scott. “Regrettably, the lack of affordable child care often forces Americans to choose between their careers and caring for their children. The most recent poverty data from the Census Bureau underscore the importance of continuing policies that help families make ends meet. Now is not the time for Congress to abandon the federal investments that kept child care centers afloat and helped families find affordable care. We must pass the Child Care Stabilization Act and provide sustained funding that will support child care workers, expand access to high-quality learning, and empower parents to pursue rewarding careers.”
“As the federal child care funding cliff quickly approaches, the Child Care Stabilization Act will protect economic security for New Jersey parents and help keep the doors open for more than 1,000 child care centers across the Garden State,” said Representative Sherrill. “We know that child care isn’t just a women’s issue — it’s an economic issue for families and businesses alike. As a mother of four school-age children, I know firsthand many of the challenges parents navigate when searching for affordable child care, and I’m going to continue fighting for them to bring costs down and keep doors open across New Jersey.”
“Ask any parent in America, and they'll tell you that the cost of child care is expensive and out of reach for too many families, disproportionately burdening women who often bear the primary responsibility for childcare. I founded the first-ever Congressional Dads Caucus to do our part to bring fathers' voices to the fight for legislation that uplifts working families—and affordable, accessible, and high-quality child care is an essential part of our agenda,” said Representative Gomez. “Our bill would prevent looming child care funding cliffs that could cause 3.2 million children to lose child care and jeopardize the jobs of 232,000 child care workers. For families' economic success and stability, and for our nation's economy as a whole, we call on House Republicans to join us in extending this funding and making child care affordable for every parent.”
“This is an emergency,” said Representative Bonamici. “Child care stabilization grants have been essential for child care providers and the families they serve, and without the grants hundreds of providers will likely close and millions of children could lose their child care slots. This funding demonstrated that federal investment can increase access to quality, affordable child care. We cannot let this funding expire. I’m helping to lead the Child Care Stabilization Act to extend these grants because it’s a good investment for children, families, and the economy.”
“House Republicans’ silence and inaction on the impending child care cliff is deafening. In San Diego, it’s already incredibly hard to find and afford child care, but allowing this crucial funding to expire would worsen the already-dire crisis and hurt women the most,” said Representative Jacobs. “It would force caregivers to leave the workforce and child care providers to close their doors, stifling the economic progress that we’ve made since the pandemic. That’s why we need to immediately pass the Child Care Stabilization Act to protect these jobs, this essential care, and our economic recovery. This is so much bigger than politics and I hope our Republican colleagues will join us in immediately passing our bill and extending this emergency child care support.”
“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan we were able to save thousands of child care programs and maintain the support and access that they offered for families, but those programs are at risk yet again,” said Representative Bowman. “We know how critical child care is for supporting our kids’ cognitive development and unlocking their brilliance over the long-term, as well as for strengthening whole families and communities. As we continue to recover from the pandemic and build an America that works for all people, we must prioritize the programs that millions rely on so that our kids, families, and economy can thrive. That means maintaining and expanding our investments in child care so that we are not faced with a social and economic disaster caused by leaving 3 million kids without care. I’m proud to join Whip Clark in protecting American families by introducing the Child Care Stabilization Act. With this legislation, we can continue to grow the child care sector and prevent a crisis for families and care workers alike.”
Unless action is taken to extend funding for the child care sector, families, providers, and our entire economy will feel the consequences—with fewer families able to find and afford the child care they need to go to work and thrive. A report released by Senators Sanders and Murray in May details how, when stabilization funding expires at the end of the month, child care programs may have to serve fewer children or be forced to raise tuition for families or cut wages for child care workers, who are already paid poverty-level wages.
A separate analysis from The Century Foundation finds that if Congress does not provide additional funding for the nation’s child care sector, more than 70,000 child care programs—one-third of those supported by stabilization funding—could close, causing approximately 3.2 million children to lose their child care spots and jeopardizing jobs for 232,000 child care workers. The loss in tax and business revenue could cost states $10.6 billion in economic activity per year. Additionally, millions of parents will likely leave the workforce or reduce their hours, which could cost families an estimated $9 billion each year in lost earnings.
35 Senators are original cosponsors of the legislation, including: Senators Murray, Sanders, Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai'i), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (D-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-Nev.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass,), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
78 Representatives are original cosponsors of the legislation, including: Representatives Clark, DeLauro, Scott, Bonamici, Bowman, Gomez, Jacobs, Sherrill, Alma Adams (NC-12), Becca Balint (VT), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Shontel Brown (OH-11), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Cori Bush (MO-01), Yadira Caraveo (CO-08), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Troy Carter (LA-02), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Angie Craig (MN-02), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Danny Davis (IL-07), Donald Davis (NC-02), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Annie Kuster (NH-02), Greg Landsman (OH-01), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Seth Magaziner (RI-02), Kathy Manning (NC-06), Lucy McBath (GA-07), Jennifer McClellan (VA-04), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Morgan McGarvey (KY-03), Rob Menendez (NJ-08), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Jared Moskowitz (FL-23), Kevin Mullin (CA-15), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Richard Neal (MA-01), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Scott Peters (CA-50), Brittany Pettersen (CO-07), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Katie Porter (CA-47), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Deborah Ross (NC-02), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (CNMI), Andrea Salinas (OR-06), John Sarbanes (MD-03), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Adam Schiff (CA-30), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Mark Takano (CA-39), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Lori Trahan (MA-03), David Trone (MD-06), Bonnie Watson Coleman, Jennifer Wexton (NJ-12), Susan Wild (PA-07), and Nikema Williams (GA-05).
The Child Care Stabilization Act is endorsed by: National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), ZERO TO THREE, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Children’s Defense Fund, Save the Children, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Association for Family Child Care, Child Care for Every Family Network, Family Values at Work, Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, MomsRising/MamasConPoder, Oxfam America, All Our Kin, Community Change Action, Prevent Child Abuse America, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, Small Business Majority, First Focus Campaign for Children, Parents Together Action, Prevent Child Abuse America, United Parent Leaders Action Network (UPLAN), YWCA-USA.
“The entire country depends on child care. The clock is ticking. Congress must act before stabilization grants expire on September 30,” said Lorella Praeli, Co-President at Community Change Action. “The situation will worsen when another round of ARPA funds for child care expire in 2024. If Congress doesn't act now, child care slots will disappear, child care providers and parents will be at risk for losing their jobs, and there will be more instability in every facet of our lives. As always women, especially women of color, and our kids will be hit the hardest. Our families, youngest kids, and the childcare workforce need a lifeboat. These grants saved nearly 10 million child care slots and protected more than 1 million child care jobs. The choice to pass the Childcare Stabilization Act should be easy.”
“The initial childcare stabilization funds were a lifeline for entrepreneurs working to keep their doors open during the pandemic,” said John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO, Small Business Majority. “These funds proved critical for small business childcare providers, as well as small employers struggling to maintain their workforce. Allowing these childcare investments to expire will disrupt the entire small business community, disproportionately impacting under-resourced and rural small businesses. We proudly support the Child Care Stabilization Act, which will allocate the funding needed to stave off the looming childcare crisis while supporting working parents and small business owners alike.”
“Our nation’s child care system is on the verge of collapse and after years of underinvestment, and the stress of the pandemic, millions of working families will be left with few or no options for quality child care. This is not a situation where we can or should simply accept that fate,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “Working people need solutions and lawmakers must come together immediately to take action and pass the Child Care Stabilization Act now.”
“SEIU members are proud to stand with Senator Murray and Senator Sanders who are listening to early childhood educators and families across the country,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “The Child Care Stabilization Act can help our country avert the worst of disasters looming over working families by ensuring that children and those caring for them have the child care they need and can avoid disruptions to their lives. This bill also helps ensure childcare workers can continue to use their power to push states to raise standards for the workforce and quality of care.”
“We are grateful to Senators Murray and Sanders and Representative Clark and their colleagues for introducing the Child Care Stabilization Act, a bill that tackles head-on the challenges facing our nation’s child care system,” said Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus Campaign for Children. “This bill would provide a solid foundation for high-quality, affordable and accessible child care — the kind of system that supports children, families and child care professionals. The kind of system we all want — and know we can have, if Congress makes the good choices that support the best interests of children.”
“Investments in the child care sector during COVID led states to make critical improvements in child care affordability, access, and support to providers. But that progress is at risk unless Congress provides additional funding,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta, President and Executive Director at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “Without added resources, we will further exacerbate long-standing inequities in the child care system and compromise positive improvements. We welcome the Child Care Stabilization Act as an essential solution that would prevent working families from losing access to care and allow states to continue building toward a system that really works for children, families, and providers—and the economy as a whole.”
“The Child Care Stabilization Act would help families across the country escape some of the most devastating impacts of the child care cliff and extend a lifeline to parents and providers,” said Julie Kashen, Director of Women’s Economic Justice and Senior Fellow at the Century Foundation. “We know how important it is for children and families, not to mention our economy, to have reliable, affordable child care in every community—and to pay the people who do that vital work a living wage because without them, there is no child care system. I am grateful for Senator Murray, Chairman Sanders, Leader Schumer, Representatives Clark and DeLauro for their leadership on this bill and their partnership in fighting for federal child care investments that our children and their families need to thrive.”
“The Child Care Stabilization Act is direly needed by families all over the country, to protect the child care of three million children and keep 70,000 child care providers open,” said Nicole Jorwic, Chief of Campaigns and Advocacy at Caring Across Generations. “We deserve to live in a country where children and caregivers have community, support, and fully funded solutions for all their care needs. Supporting the Child Care Stabilization Act and investing in a better child care system will help millions access the care they deserve, provide good child care jobs, contribute to family stability and financial security, and benefit the economy.”
“Early educators, including those caring for children in home-based settings, are facing a crippling loss of funding at the end of this month of September. The Child Care Stabilization Act would provide much-needed resources to prevent millions of families from losing access to child care and thousands of programs from being forced to close their doors,” said Erica Phillips, Executive Director of the National Association for Family Child Care. “The National Association for Family Child Care is grateful to Senators Patty Murray and Bernie Sanders as well as Representatives Katherine Clark and Rosa Delauro for their unwavering support and especially leading this legislation that would make critical investments in our nation’s child care system and prevent a crisis.”
“Last fall, more than 12,000 early educators and providers shared with NAEYC the widespread and critical impact that child care stabilization funding had in sustaining their programs and supporting their staff, as well as their anxieties about what would happen to their programs and the families they serve when that funding ran out. With stabilization funding officially expiring at the end of this month, and with many programs having already received their last round of support, we are already seeing their fears play out in real time—early educators are leaving to find other jobs as wages stagnate, programs are closing their doors for good, and families are facing increased challenges in accessing affordable, high-quality care,” said Michelle Kang, NAEYC Chief Executive Officer. “The Child Care Stabilization Act addresses these concerns head-on by extending funding for a program that we already know has worked to keep high-quality early educators open and equipped to serve young children and their families in communities across the country. We thank Senators Murray and Sanders, and Representatives Clark, DeLauro, Scott, Bonamici, Bowman, Gomez, Jacobs, and Sherrill for their leadership in introducing this critically needed legislation, and we look forward to working with them and all Members of Congress who care about the needs of young children and their families to ensure early educators have the supports they need to help families and communities thrive.”
“The $52 billion in pandemic-era federal supplemental funding helped hundreds of thousands of child care educators, including family child care educators and small business owners, keep their doors open and serve working families with high-quality, flexible care in recent years,” said Jessica Sager, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of All Our Kin. “If these resources are allowed to expire without any sort of remedy, millions of children and their families around the country will lose access to care, as many of these small businesses will be forced to close. The Child Care Stabilization Act would ensure families, especially those from low-income backgrounds, have access to care for their families, and therefore the ability to stay in the workforce. Our leaders must step up and ensure children and families have access to the crucial high-quality early education opportunities that are key to their development and empower them for success later in life.”
“American families are already feeling the pinch of rising costs. Unfortunately, when federal funding for child care runs out this month, parents are going to be forced to pay more or cut back at work, hurting families and our economy,” said Sondra Goldschein, Executive Director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy. “The Child Care Stabilization Act would stave off the worst impacts of the child care funding cliff and make sure working families have the tools and opportunities they need to build a good life. We’re thankful to those who have championed this critical legislation and urge Congress to send it to the president’s desk.”
“Now is not the time to play politics with our children’s futures. When the COVID childcare stabilization funds expire, this nation will go over a childcare cliff that will see 3.2 million children lose their child care and 70,000 child care centers closed,” said Josephine Kalipeni, Executive Director of Family Values @ Work. “We are at a pivotal moment in this nation’s history. Will Congress make permanent investments in child care to show working families they value them and their contributions? Or will they refuse to act, displaying a cowardice that will cost children, their families, and the economy? Care work is everyone’s work. We demand that all of our legislators promote care in policy and practice; that they demonstrate the power of care by prioritizing the needs of children and working families. The Child Care Stabilization Act is a strong first step to prevent the childcare cliff, but we also need the creation of a stronger social support network that ensures that all of the resources needed to take time to care––including paid leave with job security and progressive wage replacement, and affordable childcare–are available to all. We call on all political leaders to take action. This is an issue that impacts all families–no matter how they vote, where they work, or where they live.”
“YWCAs around the country can attest to the disastrous consequences child care providers and the families they care for will face if Congress fails to invest the resources needed to avert the child care cliff and stabilize funding for this essential sector of our economy and our communities,” said Margaret Mitchell, CEO of YWCA USA. “Child care providers are the backbone of our economy, and it is time we recognize their value by swiftly passing the Child Care Stabilization Act.”
“The Child Care Stabilization Act will ensure that the most vulnerable families across the country can continue to access critical child care services, without interruption,” said Javier Martínez, Managing Director of National Policy, Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors. “The risk of more than 3 million families losing child care overnight will reverberate throughout the economy and result in unspeakable hardship to American families, far and wide.”
“Access to high-quality childcare is a significant stressor for parents of young children across our country,” said Melissa Merrick, President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “This is especially true for families with less access to resources. The Child Care Stabilization Act will ensure that childcare is available to more parents so they can stay employed without the worry of their children being nurtured and cared for.”
A one-pager on the Child Care Stabilization Act is available HERE.
Legislative text is available HERE.