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Ernst Leads Bipartisan Push for More Support for Child Care Providers

Ernst leads group of Republicans and Democrats to call on the Senate to bolster assistance for child care workers and providers in the next phase of COVID-19 relief

WASHINGTON – Working across the aisle, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), along with 19 of their Republican and Democratic colleagues, are calling on the Senate to provide additional support to child care workers and providers across the country.

In a letter to Senate leaders, Ernst and 22 other senators, write: “…it is critical we provide additional support for the child care sector to ensure providers can maintain operations and continue to meet the needs of essential workers, and remain viable going forward as our country moves towards economic recovery.”

The bipartisan group of senators continue:Even before COVID-19, one of the most common concerns we heard from parents, especially in rural areas, was the struggle to find child care. The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly worsening this situation and has led to a significant reduction in revenue for child care providers as many parents are now staying home with their children. Without additional support, the coronavirus will exacerbate child care deserts and eliminate what few options families have, even after the crisis. Americans in every state rely on child care centers. If a large portion of our nation’s providers are forced to permanently shut down, parents in all industries will be unable to return to work, significantly slowing our economic recovery as businesses begin reopening.”

"Child Care Aware® of America applauds Senator Ernst and her colleagues for speaking out about the need to provide robust, dedicated support for child care in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In order for family and center-based child care programs to weather this storm, additional resources will be needed.” said Ami Gadhia, Chief of Policy, Research, & Programs at Child Care Aware® of America. "A strong child care industry is essential to getting the American economy back up and running. Funding would not only help provide emergency care for the children of front line personnel in the immediate term, but would also ensure that the child care system is sustained to enable families to access child care as they return to work. We urge Congress to prioritize relief for child care."

“Child care is absolutely essential to our nation’s long-term economic well-being, and the ability for workers to begin returning to work as states start to lift stay-at-home orders. But without additional federal support for those caring for our youngest learners, the doors for a majority of child care providers will remain closed, some permanently. That is why we are grateful for the strong bipartisan leadership of Senator Ernst, Senator Sinema, and the many others on Capitol Hill who have prioritized the dire needs of America’s child care providers and the families they serve throughout this crisis. As lawmakers consider further relief legislation, we are hopeful that Congress will provide dedicated assistance to stabilize the child care industry so that working families across America are able to access high-quality child care during the economic recovery and beyond,” said Sarah Rittling, Executive Director, First Five Years Fund.

“The child care industry is critical to millions of American families and is the backbone of the American economy. When it comes to getting parents back to work, child care will play an all-important role. And, voters agree. SCAN recently commissioned a national survey that found overwhelming bipartisan support for federal funding to the child care industry. It’s clear that this industry needs to be better supported – the future promise of our nation depends upon it,” said E.J. Wallace, Iowa State Manager, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN).

“We are thrilled to see Senator Ernst and Senator Sinema recognize child care professionals as essential to our economy and central to its recovery. We implore Congress, with great urgency, to consider this thoughtful letter and take the necessary action to ensure that American parents have the resources they need to work and provide for their families—both in times of prosperity and times of crisis,” said Dawn Oliver Wiand, Executive Director, Iowa Women’s Foundation. 

“BPC Action is pleased to see the Senate working in a bipartisan way to elevate child care to the top of the list of priorities during this time. We commend Sens. Ernst and Sinema in championing this effort,” said Michele Stockwell, Executive Director of Bipartisan Policy Center Action.

Background on Ernst’s work for child care:

This letter follows Senator Ernst’s efforts to help secure nearly $32 million for Iowa through the Child Care and Development Block Grant program. As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Ernst fought to make sure that Iowa’s child care providers could access to the Paycheck Protection Program. In addition Ernst supported funding in the relief packages for Head Start, family violence prevention and services, runaway and homeless youth programs, child welfare services, and child nutrition programs.

Outside of the COVID-19 relief packages, Ernst has put forward bipartisan legislation to expand access to quality affordable child care by allowing non-profit child care providers to utilize programs offered by the Small Business Administration. In addition, Ernst has also been working across the aisle to increase access to licensed child care services in child care deserts through state grants that would cover some of the cost of programs to support training for caregivers and projects to build, expand, or renovate child care facilities.