Millions of families will lose child care after this weekend when emergency funding for providers from the COVID-19 pandemic expires, leaving Congress with mere hours to act.
The $24 billion Child Care Stabilization Program, which was created during the outbreak of the pandemic, ends Saturday night, putting thousands of day care centers and preschools in jeopardy. Lawmakers who are parents of young children themselves have been urging their colleagues to take action, but help seems unlikely as Congress barrels towards a government shutdown .
Child care funding runs out
According to an analysis from the Century Foundation , a progressive think tank, 70,000 child care programs are projected to close after losing their funds, leaving 3.2 million young kids and their families without care. The report predicts huge economic consequences, with an estimated $9 billion loss each year.
The Child Care Stabilization Act would extend the critical funding, but so far it only has the support of 111 House members and 37 senators — solely Democrats. With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, the bill is unlikely to pass this year.
Democratic Rep. Jimmy Gomez of California has been pushing his constituents to pass the bill since January, when he co-founded the Congressional Dads Caucus. The representative made waves when he brought his infant son on the House floor during some of the many rounds of votes to confirm Republican Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House.
Both the Dads Caucus and the Democratic Women’s Caucus sent letters this month to House leaders, imploring them to pass the Child Care Stabilization Act and extend emergency funding, but Gomez doesn't have much faith in his conservative coworkers to accept the bill.
The lawmaker recently told NBC that Republicans are "in a place as a conference where the ones who care about [it] can’t even get the attention of the rest of the conference to do anything."
Losing funding will "exacerbate a child care crisis that’s already going on in our country," he added. "This is not about giving a handout; this is about economic competitiveness and keeping our economy going."
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