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— Vice President Harris’ Facebook page, April 15, 2021

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The United States could build a universal preschool system in 30 years.

That’s according to NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research), which has come up with a two-part plan based on federal, state, and local government sharing costs.

“At its current pace and without federal government leadership, the United States won’t reach all children with free preschool before 2100,” NIEER Founder and Senior co-Director Steven Barnett says in a press release.

Currently, publicly-funded preschool in the United States serves only 1.8 million children, NIEER estimates. Most states, including Massachusetts, deploy their public funding to the mixed-delivery system of early education and care, which includes center-based programs, Head Start programs, and public school districts.

NIEER’s plan “calls on the federal government to match state and local-level investments in high-quality preschool for children under 200 percent of the federal poverty level. This focus will expand high-quality preschool to 2.5 million more low-income 3- and 4-year-olds by 2040.

“Building on this foundation, state and local governments would be able to expand their preschool programs to reach all 3- and 4-year-olds by 2050 and achieve universal high-quality preschool in all 50 states.

“The cost-sharing plan would enable states to set high preschool quality standards, provide children full-day preschool 180 days a year, and support competitive salaries for well-qualified teachers.” (more…)

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“Both our failing physical infrastructure and the impossible choices we impose on caregivers put our nation at a competitive disadvantage. If it is the road that gets you to work, it is the child care that gets you through the day, and workers are counting on these supports.”

“Child care needs to be a guarantee, not an expensive hassle that drives parents out of the workforce or makes them choose between wages and family. We will make it easier for people to find the care that fits their specific needs. And we will put an end to a structure that depends on the exploitation of child care workers to make child care affordable, and increase wages for the essential workers helping [to] raise the next generation.”

 

A letter from U.S. Representative Richard Neal, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, April 5, 2021. See also “Top Democrat calling for expansion of child care support,” by Joseph Choi, The Hill, April 6, 2021

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“A historic amount of funding is making its way to child care centers across the country thanks to the American Rescue Plan.”

“Now that we’ve pumped money into the child care industry to help prevent its collapse, what comes next?

“For Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-MA), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), what comes next is the Child Care is Infrastructure Act, a bill they recently reintroduced. This bill marks a turning point when we move beyond months of focusing on relief and short-term damage control, and start recognizing the importance of child care as a fundamental part of our long-term economic recovery.

“The legislation doesn’t solve all the problems that plague the U.S. child care sector, but it takes us in the right direction. This bill’s title alone promotes an important framing of child care that is important for lawmakers and the general public to understand as our focus shifts from relief to recovery: child care is infrastructure. For the millions of women who have lost their jobs in the pandemic, having access to affordable child care — just like having access to roads to get to work — will be a determining factor for whether they are able to hold a job or not.”

“Child Care Is A Public Good. Our Government Should Start Treating It That Way,” by Rebecca Rewald, Cognoscenti, WBUR, March 24, 2021

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Photo: Gagan Kaur, from Pexels

We are thrilled that Congress has passed and President Joseph Biden has signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

This new funding will spread much needed aid across the country, and it includes $39 billion to rebuild child care. 

According to estimates, Massachusetts will receive an additional $510 million for child care. This investment is critical for stabilizing the state’s early education and care system.

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) “plans to use the federal stimulus funds as part of a larger set of grants to child care providers to ensure the viability of the industry, while also fostering innovation across the field to meet the evolving needs of working families and employers through COVID recovery period,” the department explains in its stimulus funds document.

(more…)

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Much needed federal relief for the child care sector is on its way to states. And President Joseph Biden says the investment could cut child poverty in half.

Last week, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was approved by the Senate. The House is expected to vote on the measure by Wednesday morning at the latest.

The plan, which provides sweeping support for COVID-19 recovery, “offers a bold investment in child care relief, finally delivering on the promise of a total of at least $50 billion in direct relief funding,” according to the national nonprofit CLASP (The Center for Law and Social Policy).

 

 

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“Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, suggested on Wednesday that improved child care support policies from the government might help pull more women into the labor market.

“The Fed chief studiously avoided commenting on specific government policy proposals during three hours of wide-ranging testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. But he did acknowledge, in response to a question, that enabling better options for affordable child-care is an ‘area worth looking at’ for Congress.

“ ‘Our peers, our competitors, advanced economy democracies, have a more built-up function for child care, and they wind up having substantially higher labor force participation for women,’ Mr. Powell said, answering a question from Representative Cindy Axne, an Iowa Democrat. ‘We used to lead the world in female labor force participation, a quarter-century ago, and we no longer do. It may just be that those policies have put us behind.’ ”

 

“Powell Says Better Child Care Policies Might Lift Women in Work Force,” by Jeanna Smialek, The New York Times, February 24, 2021

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“Our team has been researching and writing about the need to expand access to high-quality pre-K for many years, but the COVID-19 pandemic brings added urgency to this issue. Pre-K is not a silver bullet, but after a year of children experiencing trauma from significant disruptions in their routines, economic insecurity, illness, and loss, high-quality pre-K can help get them on the path to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

“We currently have a window of opportunity. The Biden administration has expressed interest in universal pre-K. Senator Murray, a former preschool teacher, is set to lead the Senate education committee and is an outspoken proponent of the Child Care for Working Families Act. The Democrats hold a slight majority in both the House and Senate, but do not possess the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. However, we shouldn’t write pre-K off as an issue only supported by Democrats. National polls show there is strong support nationwide among voters from both parties. Oklahoma, one of the country’s most conservative states, was one of the first to create a well-regarded universal preschool program. And there is currently an appetite for investment in pre-K. Universal pre-K did well in the 2020 election at the state and local level. And California’s new masterplan for early education calls for universal pre-K for all four-year-olds.”

 

“Universal Access to Pre-K Should Be Part of Our Economic Recovery,” by Aaron Loewenberg and Abbie Lieberman, New America blog post,
January 14, 2021

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Screenshot: The White House Twitter account

 

Section 1.  Policy. Every student in America deserves a high-quality education in a safe environment. This promise, which was already out of reach for too many, has been further threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. School and higher education administrators, educators, faculty, child care providers, custodians and other staff, and families have gone above and beyond to support children’s and students’ learning and meet their needs during this crisis. Students and teachers alike have found new ways to teach and learn. Many child care providers continue to provide care and learning opportunities to children in homes and centers across the country. However, leadership and support from the Federal Government is needed.Two principles should guide the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis with respect to schools, child care providers, Head Start programs, and higher education institutions. First, the health and safety of children, students, educators, families, and communities is paramount. Second, every student in the United States should have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, during and beyond the pandemic.”

 

“Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers,” President Joseph R. Biden Jr., January 21, 2021, Presidential Actions

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Screenshot: The White House Twitter account

 

Inaugurated yesterday, President Joe Biden is already busy. Among his most important early efforts is a plan to address the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal that includes $40 billion for child care.

The need is, as CNBC reports, substantial. “Women are being particularly hard hit, either missing out on promotions, having to leave the workforce, or losing their jobs. One in 4 are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether, according to a September report by Lean In and McKinsey & Co.

“Meanwhile, women accounted for 100% of the jobs lost in December, an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center found.”

Biden’s plans could have a historic impact.

“Not since the New Deal during the Great Depression have we seen such an ambitious economic stimulus plan,” C. Nicole Mason, president and chief executive of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, tells the New York Times. “What that signals to me is that the new administration understands the magnitude of the problem.”

In a press release CLASP (the Center for Law and Social Policy) says of Biden’s proposed stimulus: (more…)

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