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“Gov. Laura Kelly on Tuesday announced a $53 million program to deliver bonuses to 22,000 child care workers at licensed facilities in Kansas.

“Child care workers will receive a one-time payment between $750 and $2,500, depending on the hours they work, in late July. The governor said the appreciation bonuses are ‘a reward for their incredibly hard work.’

“ ‘Child care providers have faced unbelievable challenges during the last two-and-a-half years,’ Kelly said. ‘Yet they’ve continued to fulfill their critical role in caring for kids. Their work is essential to the social and economic well-being of our state.’

“The $53 million program is paid for with federal funds, the governor said. The bonuses will be administered by Child Care Aware of Kansas.”

“Kansas to give child care workers $53M in appreciation pay,” by Sherman Smith, Kansas Reflector, June 21, 2022 

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”We write today to share the challenges the ECE sector continues to face and to request that Congress rally behind the new Murray-Kaine ECE proposal and invest a minimum of $200 billion in the reconciliation bill to ensure that high-quality early education and care delivered by well-compensated educators is available and affordable for all Massachusetts families.

“The system for providing care and education for our youngest learners was broken even before the pandemic. In order to provide high-quality programming in enriching learning environments, providers need to make costly investments in building infrastructure, classroom materials, and the workforce. Yet, programs cannot squeeze more out of families who are already struggling to afford care and the voucher system does not compensate programs for the true cost of that care.”

“Since March 2020, 1,359 programs in the Commonwealth have closed, representing 17% of all programs in the state and 23,395 slots for children. Data from January of this year reveals that 60% of programs reported reduced enrollment driven primarily through staff shortages, and 69% of programs reported educator openings.”

“At this crucial moment where transformative investment is within reach but uncertain, we request that you ensure that ECE is included in the reconciliation package and that it includes a minimum investment of $200 billion into the early education and care system.”

— A letter to the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation signed by 182 advocacy organizations, business associations, foundations, higher education institutions, school districts, and child care providers from 94 communities across the state, including Strategies for Children, June 10, 2022

To learn more, check out CLASP’s “Impact of Murray-Kaine Child Care & Early Education Proposal” 

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April 6, 2022

Dear President Biden:

“We write to thank you for your commitment to cutting the cost and increasing the supply of high-quality child care for families across the country.”

“As you know, the high costs of child care and the difficulty of finding quality, affordable child care are challenges facing too many families across the country. The annual price of center-based child care for an infant exceeds the annual cost of in-state tuition at a public four-year university in every region of the country. In addition to overwhelming costs, approximately 460,000 families are without reliable child care because the child care sector has lost over 1 in 9 jobs since the start of the pandemic.”

“Now is the time to make additional comprehensive, long-term investments in affordable, high-quality child care to build on the critical but largely short-term investments made through the American Rescue Plan.”

“It is clear that child care and early learning investments are an integral part of our nation’s strategy for supporting a robust economy, lowering costs for families, and ensuring the long-term success of our children.”

Sincerely,
Katherine M. Clark, Member of Congress
Elizabeth Warren, United States Senator
Tina Smith, United States Senator
[And 150 other Members of the U.S. House and Senate]

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Ever feel like you would enjoy having inspiring, high-powered friends who believe fiercely in high-quality early education and care?

Look no further than U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) and the advocates and leaders from the field who testified last week at a special hearing on child care held by the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP).

The video and testimony transcripts are posted here.

Murray opened the proceedings with a smart, sweeping, we-have-got-to-do-better speech.

The economy, she said, “isn’t just about numbers on a page and whether they go up or down. It’s about people across the country and whether they can get what they need, whether they can take care of their loved ones, and whether things are working for them and their families.”

And one thing families – and the economy – need is child care.

“So in short,” Murray added, “we’ve got an affordability problem, child care shouldn’t be an extra mortgage; a wages problem, child care workers are leaving the field for higher paying work; and an options problem, there just aren’t enough providers… This is not just terrible for parents and kids, but for our economy as a whole.”

(more…)

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“Let’s provide investments and tax credits to… cut the cost of child care. Many families pay up to $14,000 a year for child care per child.

“Middle-class and working families shouldn’t have to pay more than 7% of their income for care of young children.

“My plan will cut the cost in half for most families and help parents, including millions of women, who left the workforce during the pandemic because they couldn’t afford child care, to be able to get back to work. 

“My plan doesn’t stop there. It also includes home and long-term care. More affordable housing. And Pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old.”

“Remarks of President Joe Biden – State of the Union Address As Prepared for Delivery,” The White House, March 1, 2022

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Photo: Yan Krukov from Pexels

How are early childhood providers doing?

In January, NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) conducted a survey of 5,000 early childhood educators to find out.

The good news: “emergency federal and state relief funds have provided critical support for stabilizing child care programs and prevented more widespread permanent program closures,” according to the survey brief, Saved But Not Solved: America’s Economy Needs Congress to Fund Child Care.

The bad news: “severe challenges remain.” That’s because federal relief funds were not meant “to resolve the systemic challenges that have plagued the child care market.”

The informative news: We’ll hear more about the survey from Lauren Hogan, NAEYC’s managing director of Policy and Professional Advancement on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, during our Strategies for Children 9:30 Call.

The survey, which includes the responses of early educators “working across all states and settings—including faith-based programs, family child care homes, and small and large centers,” produced a number of findings, including:

(more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

“Child care workers are vanishing and it’s hurting the entire economy,” CNN warns in this headline of one of its business news stories, which reports:

“Since losing one-third of its workforce at the outset of the pandemic, the child care industry has seen a jobs recovery that’s been slow and incomplete.

“And now it’s starting to backslide.

“After shedding 4,500 jobs from September through November, preliminary estimates from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the child day care services industry lost another 3,700 jobs in December.”

And, of course, these workers aren’t actually “vanishing.” They’re being driven out of their jobs by low wages and tough working conditions.

Without enough child care workers, there aren’t enough child care spots, which means many parents will struggle to be able to work, and without enough workers the economy can’t thrive.

“Now that we’re seeing a decrease [in employment], that should be worrying for many folks who are relying on these services,” Caitlin McLean, director of multi-state and international programs at the University of California Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, tells CNN.

“This is absolutely a contributor to the wider worker shortage that we’re seeing.”

(more…)

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“Federally funded universal pre-K has the potential to greatly benefit families, children, and the economy at large. A substantial body of research finds that high-quality pre-K can have a meaningful impact on children’s short- and long-term development, providing them with valuable skills to succeed in school and beyond. And two years of pre-K for the child also means two years of reduced child care costs for the parents. A study in Washington, D.C., even found that access to universal pre-K improved mothers’ workforce participation. And yet, despite such clear evidence of the benefits, six states still don’t offer state-funded pre-K programs for four-year-olds, and within the states that do, quality and access vary significantly depending on where a child lives, and very few programs offer universal access. But Build Back Better could provide states with the funding to improve the quality of programs and vastly expand access.”

“The Universal Benefits of Universal Pre-K,” by Aaron Loewenberg, Abbie Lieberman, and Laura Bornfreund, New America, January 4, 2022

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“In 2019, Virginia received federal funding from a Preschool Development Birth through Five grant (PDG), and allocated a considerable portion of their funds for direct financial incentives to early educators. The goal of this program, the Teacher Recognition Program (TRP), was to recognize teachers’ hard work, lower their financial stress, reduce turnover, and create more stable early learning opportunities for children.”

“Teachers at sites that were randomly assigned to the TRP were far less likely to turn over. About one-quarter of all teachers at sites without access to incentives left their site within eight months (see Figure 1 below). Only 14% of teachers eligible for the incentive did.

“The results were even more striking among child-care teachers: The financial incentive cut turnover rates in half, from 30% to 15%.” 

“President Biden’s Build Back Better plan would provide this type of transformative funding, giving states the financial resources and supports needed to meaningfully improve child-care quality in part through compensation reforms. However, getting the bill through the Senate has proved difficult, with growing calls to cut key pieces. Finding a way to pass this legislation, including the investments in the teachers who care for and teach our youngest children, is essential – not only for the struggling child-care sector, but for the economy as a whole. Public investments in early educators are long overdue, and they are imperative for meeting the needs of children, parents, and society.”

“How can we improve early childhood education? Use public dollars to pay teachers more.” by Daphna Bassok and Justin B. Doromal, Brookings, January 5, 2022

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federal

Photo: Yan Krukov from Pexels

 
Although the pandemic has devastated early education and care programs, states have been able to create some stability thanks to federal Covid relief funds.

This historically high funding was delivered through three federal acts:

• the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), March 2020

• the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), December 2020, and

• the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), March 2021

“This influx of funding was a historic and critical investment for a system in crisis,” according to a new analysis of the impact of federal relief funds on the child care sector from the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation (MTF).

The relief funding invested $28.5 billion in the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, including $372.7 million for Massachusetts. These funds were used for vital efforts, including reopening grants; subsidized spots for children; covering operational costs; workforce investments; and technical assistance to support the distribution of grants.

In addition, MTF explains, “ARPA allocated $23 billion to a new child care program for states: the Child Care Stabilization Fund. This program was created to address the financial burdens faced by providers during the pandemic and prevent a further reduction in the supply of child care as states recover.”

Massachusetts has also received $5.3 billion in Fiscal Recovery Funds. And while this funding is not designated specifically for child care, it does “offer policymakers options for child care investment.” (more…)

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