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Murray, Casey, Kaine, and Hirono Urge Congressional Action Ahead of Child Care Funding Cliff as New Century Foundation Report Warns of Major Economic Consequences

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI)—Senate co-leads of the Child Care for Working Families Act—in urging congressional action to address the continued child care crisis and coming funding cliff, pointing to a new report released today by The Century Foundation (TCF). TCF’s report finds that on September 30, 2023, child care for millions of children and families nationwide could begin to disappear with dire consequences for children, families, early educators, and state economies. TCF projects that without congressional action, a projected 3.2 million child care slots could be lost and roughly 70,000 child care programs could close. Parents nationwide will be forced to either pay more for child care or pull their children from care and work fewer hours. Economic growth in all fifty states and the District of Columbia will suffer.

“When Senate Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan, we kept 220,000 providers’ doors open and saved child care slots for nearly 10 million kids across our country,” said Murray. “But with much of the funding we provided expiring this fall, it’s more important than ever that we take comprehensive action to prevent the child care crisis from going from bad to worse. As The Century Foundation’s report makes clear, the coming cliff could force providers to lay off staff or shut down, force parents to leave work when they lose their child care, and take a wrecking ball to our economic recovery—unless we take action. The child care industry holds up every other sector of our economy—so we can’t afford to kick this can down the road, leaving families and our economy in the lurch. Congress must take action to tackle the child care crisis now.”

“Everywhere I go in Pennsylvania, I meet families who are struggling to find reliable child care or affordable preschool and feel like they’re on their own,” said Casey. “While the American Rescue Plan provided thousands of Pennsylvania families with a bridge to help them afford child care during the pandemic, we need a long-term, permanent solution for every working family in the Commonwealth. That’s why I’m going to keep pushing to pass the Child Care for Working Families Act; it’s good for children, for families, and for the economy.”

“The child care crisis is holding our families, workers, and economy back. I’ve heard from families across Virginia about challenges finding affordable child care, and from child care workers about challenges getting by with low wages,” said Kaine. “The end of child care funding from the American Rescue Plan will only make matters worse, which is why I’m working alongside Senator Murray to push for our Child Care for Working Families Act to shore up support for this critical industry. Passing this legislation is the right thing to do for our kids, parents, and economy.”

“The shortage of quality, affordable child care is a major challenge for families in Hawaii and across the country,” said Hirono. “That’s why Democrats took action in the American Rescue Plan to keep our child care crisis from getting even worse. But with ARP funding for child care set to expire later this year, it’s critical that Congress act once again to prevent existing child care providers from being forced to close. Quality, affordable child care is critical for our children, families, and our entire economy—it’s time for Congress to act like it.”

Key projections from the report include:

  • Approximately 3.2 million children could lose their child care spots as roughly 70,000 child care programs—one-third of those supported by stabilization funding—close.
  • The loss in tax and business revenue could cost states $10.6 billion in economic activity per year
  • In addition, millions of parents will likely either leave the workforce or reduce their hours, costing families an estimated $9 billion each year in lost earnings.
  • The child care workforce, which has been one of the slowest sectors to recover from the pandemic, could lose another 232,000 jobs
  • In five states—Arkansas, Montana, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia—and, as well as Washington, D.C.,—the number of licensed programs could be cut by half or more. In another 14 states, the supply of licensed programs could be reduced by one-third.
  • In Washington state, more than 58,000 children could lose their child care spots.

Members of Congress and child care experts emphasized the urgent need for immediate funding and long-term comprehensive solutions at the federal level that offer safe, high-quality affordable child care options to every family. Senator Murray, a former preschool teacher, has led the fight to tackle the child care crisis in the Senate—using every tool at her disposal to make progress for families. Last month, she—along with Senators Casey, Kaine, and Hirono—reintroduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, comprehensive legislation to tackle the child care crisis and ensure families across America can find and afford the high-quality child care they need. The bill would ensure families can afford the child care they need—expanding access to more high-quality options, stabilizing the child care sector, and helping ensure child care workers taking care of our nation’s kids are paid livable wages. It would also dramatically expand access to pre-K and support full-day, full-year Head Start programs and increased wages for Head Start workers. The typical family in America will pay no more than $10 a day for child care—with many families paying nothing at all—and no eligible family will pay more than 7% of their income on child care under Senator Murray’s bill.  

When the pandemic pushed the already-fragile child care sector to the brink, Senator Murray and Senate Democrats fought to provide a historic federal investment in the nation’s child care system to keep it afloat and keep serving families in need of child care. The historic child care stabilization funding and Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding secured in the American Rescue Plan helped save the child care sector from collapse—keeping 220,000 providers’ doors open and saving 10 million child care slots for children nationwide. But much of that funding is set to expire on September 30, threatening to make child care even less accessible and affordable. Last month, ahead of a HELP Committee Hearing on the coming funding cliff, Senator Murray released a report with HELP Committee Chair Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) detailing how the funding has stabilized the sector and what’s at risk when it expires.

New TCF/Morning Consult polling released today also shows that a strong majority of respondents are concerned about the cliff:

  • Roughly 2 in 3 Americans are concerned about the expiration of federal funding for childcare programs in September.
  • For those that are currently paying for childcare, more than half (54%) say that it would take them at least one month to find a high-quality, affordable childcare alternative if their current program were to close.