In response to the release of the final framework of the Build Back Better Act, TCF senior fellow and director of women’s economic justice Julie Kashen released the following statement on the bill’s child care and pre-K provisions.
Today is a historic win for families—the final framework of the Build Back Better Act includes game-changing investments in child care and pre-kindergarten that will give families the freedom to make a good living and have great care and early education for their children. This will be the most transformative investment in children and early education in generations.
The pandemic tore the invisibility cloak off of the crisis that families have faced for decades, and then made it worse: high prices of child care and early learning with no support to pay them; more than half of families living in child care deserts without safe, nurturing, affordable options; and early educators being paid $13.50 an hour on average despite their essential and complex work. Build Back Better’s provisions will lower child care costs for nine out of ten families with young children in the United States while improving the quality of the early education they receive, raising wages and covering the costs associated with higher quality care. Universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds will finally be available and parents will have the choice to find the right program for their family in center-based, home-based, family-based, pre-kindergarten, and Head Start programs.
On day one, when these policies are implemented, families hit hardest by the pandemic’s economic crisis will begin to feel the effects with free or reduced cost child care, while the new funding will help build up the child care and early learning sector to meet families’ needs across the nation. The more than one million moms still out of the workforce will begin to return to work, and others will be able to increase their hours and earnings.
The investments this bill will make will have an even larger effect on the women who have long borne the brunt of the responsibility for care. Black, Latinx, and immigrant women have been on the frontlines of care and the pandemic, and are too often underpaid and unable to spend time with their own families as a result. These investments will turn around the trajectory for women of color and ensure that women’s workforce participation—currently the lowest since 1988—recovers quickly.
Today is a day for families, and particularly women, to celebrate. But the battle is not yet won—Congress must pass the Build Back Better Act so these changes can become a reality that ensures our children can thrive, their parents have economic freedom, and our economic recovery is equitable and robust.