American families have long been struggling with out-of-reach childcare prices. The tremendous gap between what parents pay, and what early educators earn, is a product of a broken market. It cannot be solved on its own. The federal government must step in with sustainable, long-term investments through reconciliation.
The U.S. has not prioritized childcare. Even before the pandemic, many families could not find childcare when and where they needed it. More than half of all families lived in childcare deserts, and those who didn’t faced exorbitant prices. That’s gotten even worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who can afford childcare, extremely high prices take a toll—many families pay more than mortgage payments or rent for care. It’s unacceptable.
The Build Back Better Act will be a game-changer for parents across the nation, lowering prices and increasing the supply of high-quality care at the same time.
Build Back Better’s provisions to lower childcare costs, improve the quality of early education and increase wages will provide immediate relief to families hit hardest by the pandemic.
The more than 1 million moms still out of the workforce will begin to return to work, and others will be able to increase their hours and earnings.
After a year that has put parents—especially women—through unimaginable strain as they’ve struggled to keep a roof over their families’ heads and care for their children, governors in 24 states now want to rip out the rug from under them by ending state participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs.
Emergency unemployment aid is doing what it is meant to do: serving as a temporary lifeline while workers search for and return to work.
The Biden–Harris administration’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan taken together would lay the foundation for building comprehensive child care and early learning, creating greater access to home- and community-based services with a well paid workforce, and paid family and medical leave for everyone that would bolster women’s workforce participation, support healthy child development and learning, ensure people with disabilities can live independently, support aging with dignity, and ensure a flourishing economic future for everyone.
If we do not build out our care infrastructure and open up physical infrastructure jobs to women, we will exclude half of our work force from the opportunities that will shape our economic future, potentially exacerbating and permanently extending the “she-cession” of 2020.
As President Biden prepares to introduce a new plan aimed at jumpstarting economic rebirth, he must build on a key lesson from the past year: There is no equitable jobs plan that does not include child care.
Our economy can function well without private jets—but parents, and especially mothers, will not be able to be a part of the economic recovery without a significant investment in our child care infrastructure.