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Rallies highlight importance of child care provisions in the Build Back Better Act

Photo credit: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images
By Pete Levine ·

The pandemic has spotlighted just how important child care is to our society and our economy. When the country’s front-line workers need to stay on the job, whom do they turn to to care for their children? Child care providers.

Yet these providers, often women of color, have historically been grossly underpaid and undervalued. And families that depend on them often can’t afford or access them.

We need a solution to this country’s child care crisis.

These issues and more were front and center on Tuesday in California and Washington, D.C., as Child Care for Every Family Network, of which AFSCME is a coalition partner, held rallies to highlight the vital role that child care providers play. The rallies also spotlighted why President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act (BBBA), which makes game-changing investments in our child care system and passed the House in November, must be approved by the Senate.

In Yorba Linda, California, outside the Richard Nixon Library and Museum (Nixon vetoed a landmark child care bill 50 years ago), on the National Mall in Washington and live on Facebook, a coalition of diverse organizations joined together with 13,000 participants and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) to urge the Senate to pass the BBBA.

The BBBA invests in child care for infants, toddlers and prekindergarten (Pre-K) students and will benefit both child care providers and working parents. It will create a more stable child care workforce while enhancing child development to set up young children for lifelong success. Families will enjoy access to early care and early education that works best for them, including family child care and faith-based options.

For detailed information, check out AFSCME’s fact sheet.

Currently, families who can afford child care spend far too much on it, while many cannot afford it at all. Meanwhile, child care providers who perform crucial work often earn poverty wages.

AFSCME represents tens of thousands of child care providers, including members of Child Care Providers United (CCPU), who recently ratified their first, historic contract with the state of California to raise wages and expand access to child care.

The BBBA will also provide financial assistance to lower child care costs for nine out of 10 families with young children and make it free for many others. On average, it will save families $5,000 a year in child care costs and ensure that most families pay no more than 7% of their income for the care of all their children.

For providers, the BBBA will raise the wages of early educators to at least a living wage, while investing in providers and businesses to increase supply and improve the quality of early childhood education through higher wages and training.

Take Action

You can also do your part to transform child care in this country. Urge your senators to pass the Build Back Better Act.

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