December 02, 2022

Castro, Jacobs, Bonamici, and Colleagues Lead Over Half the House Democratic Caucus in Push to Double Child Care Funding in Omnibus

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), founding co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pre-K and Child Care Caucus, Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (CA-53), and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Chair of the Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, led more than half of the House Democratic Caucus in a push to double the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding in the end-of-year omnibus package. In a letter to House and Senate Appropriations leaders, the lawmakers called for a total funding increase of $6.17 billion to CCDBG to address the nation’s child care crisis, characterized by a lack of providers, rising costs, and limited availability of subsidies to meet the needs of eligible children.

The letter is co-led by Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33) and Rep. Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) and is endorsed by AFSCME, Center for American Progress (CAP), the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), The Century Foundation (TCF), Early Care & Education Consortium (ECEC), First Focus Campaign for Children, MomsRising, National Education Association (NEA), National Women's Law Center (NWLC), and ZERO to THREE.

“In the first eighteen months of the pandemic, Bexar County lost 20% of the childcare providers that working parents depended on,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. “As Texas rebuilds from the challenges of the last three years, we need more investments in childcare to support overworked and underpaid providers and help parents – especially women – rejoin the workforce. I urge the House Appropriations Committee to include the highest possible funding amount for the Child Care and Development Block Grant in the FY2023 appropriations package to make sure all children can get high-quality care.”

“Our child care infrastructure is hanging by a thread. In San Diego and across the country, parents can’t find or afford child care and providers have too little pay, benefits, and support to do their incredibly important work,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs. “By failing to devote the weight of our country’s resources to address this crisis, we’re holding back our economy, families, and the next generation from their fullest potential. I will keep doing everything I can – including pushing to double child care funding in this year’s omnibus – until every family has access to high-quality, affordable child care and early learning opportunities.”

“Child care is essential, but it is often out of reach,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Many families struggle to balance paying for child care with covering food, rent, and other necessities. The Child Care and Development Block Grant is a powerful tool to make child care more accessible and affordable, but it’s not enough to meet the demand. We must fund it at the highest possible level in the coming year.”

Text of the letter can be found below or here:

Dear Chair DeLauro, Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Granger, and Ranking Member Shelby:

As you negotiate a final appropriations package for fiscal year (FY) 2023, we respectfully urge you to include the highest possible funding amount for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). We appreciate that both the House Committee-passed Appropriations bill and Senator Murray’s Democratic bill include a funding increase of $1 billion above the FY 2022 enacted level for CCDBG—funding that would be a welcome down payment to ensure families can access affordable, high-quality child care. Given the critical needs of the sector, and the call by Members from both parties to significantly increase funding for child care, we urge Committee leadership to include the highest possible funding amount for CCDBG in a final package and to consider calls to double funding for CCDBG, providing a total funding increase of $6.17 billion.

We greatly appreciate your bipartisan support for increasing funding for child care and early learning in recent years. Still, too many families are struggling to find and afford high-quality child care, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only magnified these challenges. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, only 16% of federally eligible children receive a child care subsidy. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 100,000 fewer child care workers than there were before the pandemic, contributing to the nation’s child care crisis. The proposed $1 billion funding increase for CCDBG passed by the House Appropriations Committee and proposed in the Senate Chairman’s mark would be a critical down payment to allow states to sustain and expand services for children and families and to take steps to improve compensation for the child care workforce.

Additionally, we urge you to consider calls by Members of Congress and advocates to increase non-defense discretionary spending and double funding for CCDBG, providing a total funding level of $12.3 billion. Even with the critical funding increase proposed by the House and by Senate Democrats, significant gaps remain to adequately meet the needs of children and families. The House recognized this last year when it passed historic increases in funding for child care and early learning through the Build Back Better Act. A doubling of CCDBG funding would dramatically increase the fraction of eligible children and families served, expand support for the child care workforce, and increase child care supply. By one estimate, if Congress were to double funding for CCDBG and use 80% of that funding on direct services, more than 800,000 additional children would be reached. Doubling CCDBG would also benefit our economy by increasing parents’ labor force participation and boosting productivity.

As you know, a large body of research finds that investments in high-quality child care are among the most fiscally responsible investments we can make, improving children’s long-term outcomes and strengthening our economy. We were proud to vote for the child care relief provided through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which has been essential to keeping the sector from total collapse and vital to our economic recovery. While crucial, these ARP funds are temporary, and they do not diminish the need for increased and sustained child care appropriations to address long-standing challenges, including a decline in child care providers, rising costs, and inadequate availability of subsidies to meet the needs of eligible children and families. For these reasons, we urge you to include the highest level of funding possible for CCDBG, and no less than the proposed increase of $1 billion.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. We appreciate your leadership on this issue and look forward to working with you to continue to improve our nation’s child care sector.