President Biden recently announced the American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion investment in children and families over the next 10 years. Together with the American Jobs Plan and American Rescue Plan, the American Families Plan is set to help families recover from the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and existing gaps across our systems. The aim is to reinvest in the American economy and American workers to create millions of good jobs, rebuild the country’s physical infrastructure and workforce, be competitive on a global stage and provide direct support to children and families.
In calling for this, they’re also recognizing that child care is crucial infrastructure too. Child care is education and education is child care. Our country runs on child care. The Plan calls for “transformational investments” in early care and education so children are able to “grow, learn, and gain the skills they need to succeed.” It also includes comprehensive plans that support families as a whole, such as expanding nutrition access and creating a national paid family and sick leave program.
One of the things we appreciate about the proposals from the Administration is the understanding that child care doesn’t just happen. It is work, provided by people who need to be healthy and well, compensated and valued. In strategizing for a whole better way forward for child care in this country, we must consider and invest in the person and the program that is child care.
This is a proposal – and there are many others being offered by U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, and in the states too. This is more attention than any of us have ever seen. The energy for doing something big and real is incredible.
What investments will be made for family child care?
The AFP will invest $225 billion to:
- Make child care affordable by covering the full costs of child care for “the most hard-pressed” working families. Families earning 1.5 times their state media income will pay no more than 7% of their income towards child care costs. The plan uplifts a range of options for families to choose from and highlights “family child care providers” as one of those options.
- Prioritize high-quality child care by providing funding to child care providers to cover the costs of delivering quality early care and education. This investment includes having the support to develop curriculum, maintain small class sizes and curate culturally and linguistically responsive environments that are inclusive of children with disabilities, ensuring the growth of children’s social-emotional and cognitive development. These are all areas where family child care shines!
- Support early childhood care providers and educators by increasing the pay of workers to a $15 per hour minimum wage while also providing benefits to reduce turnover and increase quality of care. The investment will also ensure child care workers receive job-embedded coaching and professional development along with training opportunities from the AFP and American Jobs Plan. Let’s work together for leaders to understand that family child care providers need livable wages and benefits too, and that this works differently than paying those who work in centers!
Another $200 billion for universal preschool to:
- “Offer free, high-quality, accessible, and inclusive preschool to all three-and four-year-olds,” giving families the option to choose the settings that work best for them. You know your families choose you, and we know learning happens wherever children are!
- Support individuals who wish to earn a degree or credential that supports their work as an educator, including an early childhood educator. Plus, educators will receive “job-embedded coaching, professional development, and wages that reflect the importance of their work.” This support would be incredible for family child care educators who choose to pursue it!
Are there any significant tax credits?
The short answer is yes. President Biden is calling on Congress to make permanent the temporary Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit expansion in the American Rescue Plan. Families will receive:
- A tax credit for as much as half of their spending on qualified child care for children under age 13, up to a total of $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children.
- A 50% reimbursement for those making less than $125,000 a year; or
- A partial credit with benefits at least as generous as those they receive today for those making between $125,000 and $400,000.
The credit can be used for a family’s child care expenses ranging from full-time care to after school care to summer care. This is another tool in the toolbox to help families choose the child care arrangements that are best for them!
Why is the plan significant?
For families counting on you: The high cost of child care is a problem for parents, especially women, as they are forced to make a tough decision of being able to work outside the home and provide for their families. The difficulty in finding high-quality, affordable child care has forced parents to drop out of the labor force entirely. According to the National Women’s Law Center, more than 2.3 million women have left their jobs in the past year, with child care as a major factor. This is the lowest level of women’s participation in the labor force in more than 30 years. For you: The work of child care happens thanks to the commitment of family child care providers like you. However, this workforce is one of the most underpaid in the country and receives few, if any, benefits like health care or retirement plans. More than 9 in 10 early care educators and providers are women, and more than 4 in 10 are women of color. Additional investments are needed to not only retain family child care providers so they can stay in business but also strengthen the field so that children are receiving high-quality care.
At NAFCC, we applaud these proposed investments because it will lead to better quality child care for our children, allow providers to take care for their own families and strengthen the family child care workforce so they can succeed in their careers.