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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, as part of a multistate coalition, urged the U.S. Senate to provide at least $50 billion in financial support for childcare as part of the next coronavirus relief package. This funding is critical in order for childcare providers to make payroll and pay rent, insurance, and other fixed costs over the next several months. Without adequate federal support, an estimated 51 percent of the childcare supply in California could be lost. Nationwide, only 11 percent of providers are expected to be able to survive a closure of indeterminate length without government intervention, and more than 250,000 people working in childcare have already lost their jobs. In their letter, the coalition highlights the critical importance of adequate childcare for economic recovery and that the financial burden of closures will fall disproportionately on women and people of color.
“The pandemic has exacerbated what we already knew to be true – that parents pay too much for childcare and our caretakers make far too little,” said Attorney General Becerra. “If we don't act quickly, many childcare centers will close their doors permanently, aggravating the early childhood education crisis in this country and leaving working families with no option to return to work post-pandemic. You should not have to choose between being a parent or having a job – it’s past time we treat childcare as the essential service it is to our economy. That’s why we’re calling on Congress to include at least $50 billion in funding for childcare in the next coronavirus relief bill.”
There is an abundance of research showing the critical importance of childcare assistance to children, families, and the economy, particularly during times of economic recovery. Childcare centers provide children with education opportunities and continuity of care, while ensuring that their parents can go to work or school knowing their children are safe. Childcare assistance also boosts the economy, especially during times of economic recovery, allowing workers to return to their workplaces; putting money in the hands of families who will spend it; and ensuring that programs – largely women-owned small businesses – have the funding they need to stay in business.
Unfortunately, as a result of the current crisis, many childcare centers will close if they do not receive federal assistance. A recent survey found that only 11 percent of providers can survive a closure of indeterminate length without government intervention, and just 16 percent can survive a closure of more than one month. According to another study, without adequate federal support, nearly 4.5 million childcare slots across the country are at risk of disappearing.
Congress must provide immediate financial support for childcare centers to help them weather this financial storm. But this is just a first step. In their letter, the coalition argues that there is a critical need to reform our system so that childcare is treated as the public good that it is. No parent should have to pay more for childcare than for college. To build a more equitable society beyond this current crisis, the coalition urges Congress to take concrete action to ensure that every family has access to quality, affordable childcare and that educators earn the pay that they deserve.
Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, in sending the letter.
A copy of the letter can be found here.