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Lawmakers host roundtable discussion on child care crisis in U.S.

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A recent report by the Century Foundation found that the United States faces a child care crisis as American Rescue Plan Act funding is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2023.

More than 70,000 child care programs, 1/3 of which are supported by federal funding, will likely close and approximately 3.2 million children across the country could lose child care.

Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan and Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia toured Kidz with Goals Unlimited in Hopewell yesterday, a child care and early education center offering child care. After the tour, the lawmakers hosted a roundtable discussion with parents and child care providers to discuss the child care crisis in America.

“The cost of child care has risen exponentially over the past ten years, and working families feel the financial strain,” McClellan said. “The child care crisis disproportionately impacts women and communities of color, who are often forced out of work to care for their children due to unmanageable costs. As one of the few mothers with young children in Congress – and even fewer mothers of color – I am committed to solving the child care crisis and ensuring hardworking families in Virginia have the support they need. While in the Virginia General Assembly, I championed passage of the Child Care Stabilization and Quality Care Act, and I will continue my leadership in Congress. I am grateful for today’s discussion with Senator Kaine, parents, and child care providers, as we continue to shine a light on this crisis.”

In Virginia, 88,265 kids would lose their child care, at least 2,861 child care workers would lose their jobs, Virginia parents would lose $280 million in earnings after being forced to cut work hours or leave the workforce, and 1,383 child care programs would close if funding expires.

“Child care providers play a critical role in caring for and educating our children, setting the foundation for their futures,” Kaine said. “But in Virginia, the annual cost of child care for infants and toddlers is higher than in-state college tuition. This morning, Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan and I spoke with child care providers and parents in Hopewell to discuss the need to extend crucial child care funds from the American Rescue Plan, which are set to expire in September. We’ve sent a letter urging President Biden to support this funding, and I’ll keep working to pass my Child Care for Working Families Act to lower child care costs.”

McClellan joined colleagues in a letter to President Joe Biden to support increased investments to the child care sector. In the letter, she calls for an investment of at least $16 billion per year to reduce the impacts of the expiration of ARPA and CARES Act stabilization grants to help solve the child care cliff.

Kaine led a similar letter with Senate colleagues to Biden this week. He recently reintroduced his Child Care for Working Families Act, legislation to tackle the child care crisis and ensure families can find and afford the high-quality child care they need. He has also introduced legislation to develop, administer and evaluate early childhood education apprenticeships.

“As Mrs. Juanterria Brown, the owner and operator of Kidz with Goals, made clear today, funding from the American Rescue Plan was a lifeline for child care providers across the Commonwealth,” Kristina Hagen, Virginia state director for the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, said. “Unfortunately, the child care sector remains vastly under resourced, and without robust, sustained investments, many providers will be forced to cut services or close altogether, leaving parents unable to work. We’re grateful that Rep. McClellan and Sen. Kaine recognize the challenges working families face and the need to invest in child care. We know they will carry the stories they heard today from parents and providers as they continue to lead on this issue in Washington.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.