The White House on Thursday announced that it is releasing $39 billion in funding for states to address the “child care crisis” with the money to come from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill President Joe Biden signed into law last month.
The Biden administration said the $39 billion is aimed at addressing the “acute, immediate child care crisis” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and will help early childhood educators and family child care providers keep their doors open.
Split into two parts, the initiative will see $24 billion will go to providers as part of a stabilization fund to help “child care providers to reopen or stay open, provide safe and healthy learning environments, keep workers on payroll, and provide mental health supports for educators and children.”
The other part will provide $15 billion in more flexible funding “for states to make child care more affordable for more families, increase access to high-quality care for families receiving subsidies.”
Vice President Kamala Harris called the funding the “single largest investment in child care in the nation’s history.”
Last year, $15 billion in child care relief was provided as part of COVID-19 relief packages under the Trump administration.
“For many, many people and many women in particular, child care has often been the prerequisite for their ability to work, and for many others, child care is their work, and that’s why in America, child care should be readily available and affordable for all of those who need it,” Harris said.
The White House said the funds are “a critical step to pave the way for a strong economic recovery and a more equitable future.”
“These providers have been on the front lines caring for the children of essential workers and support parents, especially mothers, who want to get back to work,” the White House said in its announcement.
The Biden administration said that it expects the funding will benefit hundreds of thousands of child care providers and early childhood educators.
“In America, child care should be readily available and affordable for all of those who need it, child care workers should be paid fairly and treated with dignity and respect, and small business owners who run child care centers must be fully supported,” Harris added.
It will also include an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. As part of the stimulus, the credit was increased to $3,000 per child from ages six to 17, and $3,600 for children under six. It was made fully refundable, and payable in monthly instillments of $300. Before this, the maximum annual credit was $2,000 for every child under 17.
Some experts have called the funding a move toward universal basic income.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that Biden wants to make the Child Tax Credit permanent, beyond the pandemic.
“He believes there’s a lot of proposals out there, including from Senator Romney, to work to ensure there’s longer-term assistance through the Child Tax Credit,” she told reporters. “And he believes it’s also one of the ways that we can help address the number of women—working women—who have moved out of the workforce,” she added. “But we just have to find a vehicle, and we’re having those discussions with Congress.”
The White House said that more guidance on the funds will be released in the coming weeks.
Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.