Warren, Smith call for $50B to rescue child care centers amid drop in attendance


Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) are calling for Congress to spend $50 billion to support child care providers who have seen enrollments drop and cleaning costs increase as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Warren and Smith warn that many child day care centers that were already stretched thin before the pandemic are now facing bankruptcies and layoffs as a result of plummeting enrollment.

Exacerbating the business problems of child care providers, they have also had to extend hours for the children of essential workers and increase cleaning regimens to keep centers safe.

“When the time comes, we will not be able to rebuild our economy if this country’s child care system has collapsed beneath the economic burden of this pandemic,” Warren and Smith wrote in a joint post on Medium.

“When the economy can start to safely get back on track, millions of parents will not be able to return to work or reopen their own small businesses if they cannot find safe, affordable, and reliable care for their children,” they wrote.

The senators say Congress needs to spend $50 billion in emergency funding to keep child care available to essential workers, help child care businesses keep workers on payroll and provide long-term investments to prepare the child care market to resume operations once the U.S. economy reopens.

The senators want to distribute federal funding through the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant to provide states with flexibility to immediately meet the needs of child care facilities.

“When we were young moms, our kids were always our first priority–only when we knew they were safe and cared for, could we then become working moms and fully participate in the economy,” the senators wrote.

The child care industry last month asked Congress to include $50 billion in relief for its member businesses in the CARES Act, citing a drastic drop in attendance at facilities.

Attendance at child care centers was estimated last month to have dropped by 70 percent.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Early Care and Education Consortium warned that without federal relief, more than half of licensed child care facilities could close.

Alex Gangitano contributed.

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