Today, White House officials welcomed more than 90 state legislators from 41 states across the country to support state actions to make child care more affordable for working families, increase child care provider supply, and improve job quality for child care workers. First Lady Jill Biden, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan also attended the convening and delivered remarks.
This convening reaffirms the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to child care and demonstrates the Administration’s willingness to use every avenue available to drive the improvements necessary to lower costs for families, build child care supply so families have more options, and improve job quality for child care workers. The Biden-Harris Administration has been focused on delivering for child care workers since Day One. Through the investments provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, 225,000 child care providers were able to stay open or re-open during the worst parts of the pandemic, enabling them to serve as many as 10 million children. A third of providers reported they would have closed permanently without those funds.
Earlier this year, the President proposed a vision for early childhood education that provides universal access to high-quality preschool and enables working families to access affordable, high-quality child care. Under the President’s budget, families making less than $200,000 would be eligible for child care assistance and the average family would pay no more than $10 a day for care. As Congress considers that proposal, the President did not want to wait to take action on child care, which is why he signed a historic executive order in April that directs nearly every cabinet-level agency to expand access to affordable, high-quality care, and provide support for care workers and family caregivers. This EO represents the most comprehensive set of actions any President has taken to advance care.
The Biden-Harris Administration understands that the implementation of high-quality child care depends on the states. In administering the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG), states determine who is eligible for child care assistance, how much parents will pay out-of-pocket for care, and how much child providers are reimbursed. Thanks to actions by the Biden-Harris Administration, states have even more avenues to improve child care access, affordability, and quality. An HHS notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) announced by Vice President Harris earlier this month would cap child care payments for families served by CCDBG at 7% of a family’s income, and encourage states to waive copayments for families at or below 150% of the federal poverty level ($45,000 for a family of four).
At the convening, state leaders shared successes from the past legislative session and discussed next steps for further state action on child care, such as serving more working families, lowering costs, and supporting providers. Spurred by the historic actions the Biden-Harris Administration has taken, states across the country have made significant investments in child care as part of their budgets, expanded income eligibility for child care subsidies, and increased provider payment rates.
As we work towards a system of early childhood education that better supports all children, families, and child care providers, it is important that we follow the example of states that have already shown it is possible to transform these systems from the ground-up. Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s leadership, New Mexico became one of the first states to create a cabinet-level position for early childhood; made child care free for families at or below 400% of the federal poverty level – $120,000 for a family of four; compensated child care providers for the actual cost of providing high-quality care; and passed a constitutional amendment that provides robust funding for early childhood in perpetuity.
White House officials thanked the state legislators for their leadership and dedication to this issue, and discussed steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to support state action to improve child care access, affordability, and quality.
The opening and close of the convening can be viewed here.
Senior White House officials included:
- First Lady Jill Biden
- Jennifer Klein, Assistant to the President and Director of the Gender Policy Council
- Neera Tanden, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council
- Tom Perez, Assistant & Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
- Carmel Martin, Deputy Assistant to the President & Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President