WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) today voted to pass H.R. 7027, the Child Care is Essential Act, and H.R. 7327, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, to create a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization fund and invest in child care so that providers across New Jersey have the resources they need to safely reopen. Without adequate investments in the child care industry, families across the country will be unable to return to work.
New Jersey could lose 147,889 licensed child care slots, approximately 54% of the child care supply, if the federal government does not provide support. The $902,224,676 New Jersey would receive from the Child Care is Essential Act would help child care providers stay open, keep employees on payroll, and safely operate under new guidelines.
“I was once a single dad, working in construction, and back then, it was hard to find affordable, quality child care. Today, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s nearly impossible,” said Congressman Norcross, a cosponsor of the Child Care is Essential Act and member of the House Committee on Education and Labor. “Hundreds of thousands of child care programs are at risk of permanent closure. These small businesses and the working families that rely on them need our support. We cannot properly address reopening our economy without first having a conversation about how working families will care for their children. This $50 billion investment provides our nation and South Jersey with the resources needed to take a step toward safely reopening. I urge the Senate to act swiftly to protect working families.”
Prior to the spread of the coronavirus, New Jersey could not provide care for every child that needed it. With 2.3 children per available child care slot, working families lacked access to safe, quality child care. The spread of COVID-19 has only worsened this problem to the brink of catastrophe. Since the pandemic, it is now estimated that there are 4.99 children per child care slot. Without robust federal investments, the child care industry cannot provide the care needed to help Americans return to work.
The Child Care is Essential Act includes:
· Stabilization grants for personnel costs, sanitation and cleaning, training and other goods and services needed to maintain or resume operation of the child care program.
· Support for child care workers. This bill requires employers to keep child care workers on payroll at the same compensation level as pre-COVID as a condition of receiving stabilization grant funds.
· Support for working families by requiring providers to relieve families of copayments or tuition.
· Promotion of health and safety through compliance with public health guidance. Under this legislation, open providers would be required to meet health and safety guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local authorities.
The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act includes:
· Improved and fairer tax benefits for families and working caregivers. This bill enhances the child and dependent care tax credit (CDCTC), expands the dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSA) and creates a new tax credit to help employees access quality, affordable child care.
· Support for struggling child care providers by providing a new refundable payroll tax credit for child care providers and incentivizing employers to keep child care workers on payroll.
· Greater federal investments in child care. This bill increases funds for the Child Care Entitlement to States program, in conjunction with the CDCTC, parlays federal investments into better child care options for working families, supports family care for essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis and invests in infrastructure to improve child care safety.
Earlier this month, Norcross worked to secure child care provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) FY21. The provision provides an on base housing preference for servicemembers whose spouse is a certified Family Care Coordinator and is willing to open their house to provide child care for at least six children. Wait times for child care at an on base Child Development Center (CDC) can be over a year, forcing many military families who live on base to find child care options off base. This amendment will provide for more on base child care options, while helping to alleviate the strain on CDC wait times.
Norcross also worked to expand the authorized use of Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS) – an essential grant program that makes it possible for higher education institutions to pursue campus-based child care options that support student parents – to include support for student parents who may require evening, weekend, summer and before- and after-school services.