Revised Build Back Better bill text became available on October 28 to forward the framework released by the Administration earlier that day. We’ve been reviewing bill text and sorting out questions.
On November 2, national advocates came together to host a webinar to share about the legislation and the path forward. This continues to be an ever-changing situation. Partners shared what was understood about the bill text available and that things are continuing to take shape.
Jerletha McDonald represented NAFCC and the field of family child care on this call as part of a panel that also included a center director and AEYC leader from Rhode Island, and a mother from New Jersey. Together, they shared hopes and concerns about the Build Back Better framework and bill.
Here are Jerletha’s remarks:
Moderator: What gives you hope about the Build Back Better Bill? How will it change the lives of family child care providers?
Jerletha: When more families are eligible for support accessing child care and reached with that support, that’s better for us all. We have another problem though: there isn’t enough child care. Families will need more child care programs to choose from. We can solve this through parts of the Build Back Better bill.
- more family child care providers to remain open,
- more family child care providers to get started,
- more family child care providers to join in the regulated system,
- more family child care providers able to participate in public funding when we make it make good sense, and equitable sense and inclusion for all, and
- more family child care providers celebrated for their quality when we make those standards and incentives make good sense too.
We have a chance to make it make sense as we Build Back Better.
And that’s just the child care portion of the bill. I have hope about the preK portion too. Learning happens in family child care. There are states and cities that partner with family child care with their preK dollars. We can do this anywhere in the nation if we try. Prek funding in states have shut out child care and especially family child care for long enough. Truly, it is stressful personally, professionally, and financially for family child care providers. But this new idea does not start or end with the schools.
Mixed delivery in the Build Back Better bill calls for equitable distribution of preK across “child care including family child care, Head Start and schools.” This is huge. So let’s go get it.
Moderator: The details are still coming together on this bill. Do you have any worries as it comes together?
Jerletha: Family child care has been shut out so many times. Sometimes this has been an unintended consequence and, if we’re being honest, sometimes quite on purpose if someone thinks we’re less for some reason.
Family child care providers need to be included in all conversations when talking about the early childhood landscape:
- at the beginning of plans, and
- throughout decision-making processes,
- and not an afterthought – the days of that are over.
The details matter. Saying “child care provider” isn’t enough to make the difference. Saying “centers and family child care” and calling for equitable distribution and naming our place in this is critical.
The rules need to make sense for a family child care provider working with children of mixed ages in her home, and they need to make sense for the work that centers do as well. Let’s value this and set the terms that can be implemented. Let’s drive the investments so they reach us.
Moderator: What do you want to say to your policymakers about Build Back Better?
Jerletha: Go big for child care. Come and see family child care. Spend time with us and include us. Equitable compensation matters and that’s health insurance, retirement, and the ability to pay ourselves and our staff and take care of our families. Child care is a public good and that includes the work of family child care. Our sisters in centers and our sisters in family child care need to be there for America’s families. Let’s invest in families AND in the early childhood workforce. Continued investment in the early child care landscape is important and necessary. There is no economic recovery without us.
As of now, we don’t know when votes might take place in the House or Senate and this work is definitely not over. Our advocacy continues to be about making sure Congress plays its important role in helping to solve child care AND about getting the details right for family child care.