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“Child care is a workforce issue, and prioritizing investment in the following ways will help to overcome this barrier:

• Investments in the child care workforce. In the short term, states can offer incentives such as signing bonuses for child care workers to return to work, and retention bonuses for established early childhood educators. In the long term, continued education grants and apprenticeship programs to support early childhood educators can meet the incredible demand for quality child care.

• Supporting working parents. States can and should invest in their data infrastructure. By creating databases that monitor the type and supply of child care available to communities, families and child care providers both benefit.

• Investing in the business side of child care. Stabilizing and growing the child care industry is a must. Grant and loan programs to stabilize existing child care programs and launch new, quality options will prevent child care deserts from growing, promote innovation from providers, and increase options for families.

“Many states are already leading by example.

“Arizona channeled $300 million in federal resources into return-to-work incentive programs that include $2,000 bonuses for those who return to the workforce, three months of child care assistance for people with children who return to work after collecting unemployment benefits, and housing assistance.”
 

“States taking the boldest actions on child care should be national models,” by Cheryl Oldham, Opinion Contributor, The Hill, July 15, 2021

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“California will expand the state’s Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program to all four-year-olds if a current placeholder budget is enacted on July 1st. If approved, the state would phase in the program incrementally over three years starting in the 2022-23 school year.

“TK was started in 2010 as a new grade level in California’s public schools for four-year-olds with fall birthdays. California had one of the youngest kindergarten entry dates in the nation at the time, which meant children started kindergarten as young as age four. The new grade level was meant to rectify that problem, but it also created new inequities because it was only available to a small number of children.

“Now it looks like that’s about to change.”

“California Moves Toward Universal Pre-K,” by Sarah Jackson, New America blog post, June 21, 2021

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“ ‘This is a critical component to our success,’ Whitmer said. ‘Data shows that child care is the biggest single monthly expense for lower income working families with kids. So right now, we’ve got an opportunity in front of us, an opportunity to make an historic, long-term investment in child care.’ ”

“Lawmakers in the Michigan Legislature from both parties have been receptive to Whitmer’s child care proposal, with House Appropriations Chair Thomas Albert, R-Lowell, saying in a statement earlier this week ‘I am confident we will find common ground to move forward and make a real difference helping Michigan families meet their child care needs.’ ”

“Whitmer pushes plans for back to work incentive, increased child care access in Grand Rapids,” by Arpan Lobo, the Holland Sentinel, June 16, 2021

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“Even for parents whose children have already returned to school, pandemic-related care challenges rage on.

“James Smith, who works as a financial analyst at a mid-sized bank in the Dallas area, is back in the office full-time already. His wife, a pharmacist, never stopped going to work.

Although they are both vaccinated and their 2- and 5-year-old kids are back at daycare and kindergarten, the pandemic is still disrupting their lives.

“ ‘Covid is still fairly prevalent in the community,’ he told CNN Business. ‘Our oldest has been subject to two quarantines in March and April,’ because of possible exposure at school. For Smith, that meant working from home again, which he said created friction with his employer, or getting help from his elderly parents, who are at greater risk from the virus.

“ ‘There aren’t really any statutory [rules] if your kid is out of school,’ because of Covid exposure, he said. ‘It’s kind of a rush to get back to normal on the business side. I question whether or not that’s considering what’s actually going in the community.’ ”

“Offices are reopening. For parents, that raises a childcare problem,” by Anneken Tappe, CNN Business, May 19, 2021

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“President Biden’s proposal for free, high-quality preschoolfor all 3- and 4-year-olds would create powerful change in Massachusetts, one of the nation’s most expensive child care markets, educators and parents said.

“In a state where, despite its relative wealth and strong public school system, nearly half of children don’t attend preschool, mostly because they can’t afford it, universal preschool could help reduce the educational inequities that start long before kindergarten, they said.

“ ‘I honestly think it’s a game-changer,’ said Amy O’Leary, campaign director of Strategies for Children, an advocacy group. ‘The research tells us that for families who need more support, we see better outcomes in the short and long-term.’ ”

“In an address to Congress last week, Biden said his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan would add four years of free public education — two years of preschool and two years of community college — to the 12 years guaranteed to all children.”

“Biden’s universal preschool plan a ‘game-changer’ for Mass., but final version could look very different,” by Naomi Martin, The Boston Globe, May 2, 2021

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“President Biden will use his address to a joint session of Congress next week to lay out his next legislative proposal focusing on child care and education, the White House said Thursday.”

“Biden’s plan is expected to propose a families package totaling some $1 trillion that would cover child care, universal prekindergarten and community college, but The New York Times reported Thursday that the plan will not include an expansion of health care coverage or reduction to prescription drug prices.

“Biden is expected to propose to pay for the plan by raising taxes on the wealthy.”

“Biden to use address to Congress to lay out plans for child care, police reform,” by Morgan Chalfant, The Hill, April 22, 2021

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

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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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“I feel a great responsibility to remember and think of the educators, program directors, family childcare providers, school staff, CEOs, and community leaders who have shown up every day for children and families to start with this pandemic.

“We continue to be inspired by this resilient workforce, but we know that is not enough. We cannot return to the way things were. We cannot call child care essential for the economy and then continue to have 37% of early educators in Massachusetts eligible for public assistance. We cannot make decisions about the K-to-12 side of this system without considering the implications for babies, toddlers, before- and afterschool, summer and school vacations. We cannot give access to consistent testing to people in one part of the system and not continue to think about the children and families, and [about] the [early education] teachers who are there every day with children.”

“We know that families don’t live in funding streams, but many of our decisions have been based on those funding streams.”

[Amy starts speaking at the video’s 1:00 time mark.]

— Amy O’Leary, “Reimagining Early Care and Education: A New American Vision,” A New America webcast, March 30, 2021

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