Sign-on Letter Supporting Child Care and PreK in Build Back Better
October 28, 2021
The Honorable Chuck Schumer The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Majority Leader, U.S. Senate Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi,
We write in strong support of the child care and pre-kindergarten provisions in the Build Back Better plan. The historic investment and policies outlined in the framework would support the transformative work of building a strong, stable early childhood education system that is affordable and accessible to families in new and critical ways. These policies will:
- Lower child care costs for more than 90 percent of families with young children
- Guarantee high quality child care choices for parents by expanding the supply of safe, nurturing options
particularly for infants and toddlers
- Create and support millions of jobs, including for early educators and parents
- Raise the wages of early educators - 95 percent of whom are women and disproportionately women of color -
to at least a living wage, with wages comparable to elementary school educators for those with similar credentials
- Provide universal pre-kindergarten for three and four year olds in diverse settings that meet families’ needs; and
Support children's healthy development, ensuring that regardless of economic status, race, zip code, language or ability all children have a strong foundation.
The pandemic brought to light how essential child care and early learning are to our country, while also revealing profound flaws. The bottom line is that America’s existing child care market is unsustainable. Most parents can’t afford the price of care, while too many Americans live in areas without access to quality care options at all. Further, providers can only charge what families in their area can afford, which often translates to near-poverty wages for early educators. Addressing these present and ongoing challenges requires a comprehensive approach to securing ample child care supply and capacity, while ensuring there are quality options available for families when and where they need them.
The child care provisions in the Build Back Better package are an economic, political, and gender and racial justice imperative. Women’s labor force participation is at its lowest level since 1988, with lack of care options comprising a significant barrier. Small businesses are feeling the crunch, with over half (55 percent) of small business owners surveyed stating that the lack of affordable, high-quality child care for employees has had a negative impact on their business . Young children of color and those in families with low incomes are less likely to have access to affordable and high quality care that can help them thrive developmentally. And these investments consistently poll as a high priority for the vast majority of voters: Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.
The policy before Congress today will lower the cost of child care and provide pre-kindergarten for millions of families while investing in the higher wages and professional development needed to ensure high quality care for all participants. Families will have a range of center-based, home-based, family child care, school-based, and Head Start options that work best for them. Families will start to feel these changes right away as the system stabilizes in ways that help all families, while those most in need receive financial assistance, and states build their supply of child care, addressing the urgent shortage of slots holding back our economic recovery.
Fifty years after President Nixon’s veto of comprehensive child care reform, we are at the cusp of a turning point for a just and equitable child care and early learning system. This is the moment where we take the closest step yet to realizing the first ever early care and education guarantee. It’s time to set families up for success and set up early care and education to be a valued and highly desired, long-term career path - our economic prosperity depends on it. We look forward to working with you to enact and implement these policies across the United States.