Courtney Votes to Support Working Families Through Improved Access to Child Care Amid COVID-19 Crisis
WASHINGTON, DC – Last night, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass two bills that would help stabilize the child care sector, support providers’ ability to safely reopen and operate, and support working parents to access safe, quality care. The Child Care Is Essential Act (H.R. 7027) and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act (H.R. 7327) would create a new program to direct funding to American child care centers, provide ongoing federal investments and tax subsidies for working families, and would provide tax credits to support child care providers impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns. Courtney helped introduce the Child Care Is Essential Act on May 27th, and is an original co-sponsor of the legislation.
“Child care is essential, and these bills are absolutely necessary to clear a major roadblock on our nation’s path towards economic recovery,” said Congressman Courtney. “Without assistance, only 18 percent of existing child care programs will remain open a year from now due to the COVID-19 economic crisis—an abysmal statistic for working moms and dads nationwide, for the thousands of people who work in the childcare sector, for our entire economy. For millions of Americans, returning to work isn’t just contingent on the lifting of ‘stay-at-home’ orders, it also hinges on securing care for their kids. Child care providers are small businesses—they provide good jobs, almost every other sector of our economy relies on them, and if they’ve been able to stay open at all during this pandemic, they’ve been incurring simultaneous spikes in operating costs and drop-offs in revenue. They are up against a tremendous challenge right now, these bills would help ensure they get the help they need to help us recover.”
Rep. Courtney joined Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and others in introducing the Child Care Is Essential Act. Courtney is an original co-sponsor of the bill. Specifically, H.R. 7027 would:
- Create a new Child Care Stabilization Fund—The bill creates a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund within the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. Providers could use stabilization grants for: Personnel costs; Sanitization and cleaning, personal protective equipment, and other necessary equipment; Training and professional development related to health and safety practices; Fixed costs like mortgage obligations, rent, utilities, and insurance; Mental health supports for children and employees; Modifications to child care services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and more
- Support for Child Care Workers—H.R. 7027 requires employers to keep child care workers on payroll. Under the legislation, all providers would be required to continue to employ and pay their staff at the same compensation level as pre-COVID-19 as a condition of receiving stabilization grant funds.
- Support for Working Families—The bill facilitates relief from copayments and tuition. All providers would be required to provide families with relief from copayments and tuition as a condition of receiving stabilization grant funds.
- Improved Safety of Child Care Facilities—The bill promotes health and safety through compliance with public health guidance. Open providers would be required to meet health and safety guidance from the CDC and state and local authorities, and closed providers would have to provide an assurance that they will reopen their program when they are able to implement such guidance. Providers can use stabilization grant funds to purchase equipment and make modifications necessary to meet such guidance.
The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act would provide ongoing federal investments and tax subsidies for working families, helping to bring quality child care within their reach to support ongoing employment. It also provides tax credits to support child care providers affected by COVID-19 shutdowns. Among its many provisions, H.R. 7327 would:
- Enhance the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC)—The proposal would make the CDCTC refundable, allowing many low- and middle-income families to claim the credit for the first time. The enhanced credit covers up to half of a taxpayer’s childcare expenses. Under the proposal, families with one child would be eligible for a credit of up to $3,000; families with more than one child would be eligible for a credit of up to $6,000; and the credit value phases down for families who earn in excess of $120,000.
- Create a New Tax Credit to Help Employees Access Quality Child Care—To incentivize employers to do right by their employees, this measure provides a new 30 percent refundable payroll tax credit for eligible employee dependent care benefits paid by employers.
- Provides a new refundable payroll tax credit for child care providers—To help keep child care providers afloat, the legislation creates a 50 percent refundable payroll tax credit for mortgage obligations, rent obligations, and utility payments incurred by child care facilities that have suffered a reduction in revenue or are subject to a COVID-19 related closure.
- Incentivizes employers to keep child care workers on payroll—The bill expands the employee retention tax credit (ERTC) to incentivize employers of household domestic workers to continue to pay those employees. Employers can receive the credit on wages they pay domestic workers who cannot work due to a governmental order.
- Increases funds for the Child Care Entitlement to States program—The bill would increase guaranteed federal funding for the Child Care Entitlement to States (CCES) up to $10 billion per year for FY2020 – FY2024, and waive state match requirements for the additional funds for FY2020 and FY2021, in order to provide sustained and predictable support.
- Supports family care for essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis—The legislation provides $850 million to states to fill in gaps in dependent care for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Invests in infrastructure to improve child care safety—The bill includes a $10 billion investment over the 2020-2024 period to improve child care facilities and infrastructure, both to address longstanding inadequacies of child care facilities and also to respond to the immediate infrastructure needs that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, including structural changes to facilitate social distancing and improve sanitation.