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Following President Biden’s Visit to Eastern Connecticut, Courtney Emphasizes Need for Childcare Provisions in Build Back Better Legislation

October 20, 2021
Press Release
Courtney noted that without adequate, affordable childcare, employers will continue to see workforce shortages

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) spoke from the House of Representatives to highlight President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Connecticut, and to re-emphasize the President’s call for support to America’s child daycare centers—support that is needed to help working parents re-enter the economy, and which is included in the House’s Build Back Better legislation. Rep. Courtney is a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee, and in September he and his colleagues voted to authorize the portion of the Build Back Better Act that includes support for childcare centers, working families, and workforce development.

Click here to watch today’s full remarks.

Rep. Courtney emphasizes the need to help American families out with the high cost of childcare
Courtney: “The Build Back Better agenda is not soft infrastructure. It is right at the heart of whether or not we are going to fully recover and grow in the wake of this pandemic.” Watch here.

Last week, Courtney joined President Biden for a visit to Capitol Child Development Center, a daycare center in Hartford, CT. The President noted that America cannot remain competitive in the 21st century unless American workers and families are provided with competitive opportunities to succeed and to join the workforce. Currently, the average low- and middle-income American family spends between 14% and 35% of their annual income on childcare—in Connecticut, the average annual cost is about $16,000. The exorbitant cost of childcare has acted as a major roadblock to America’s economy for years, and the problem has grown worse during the COVID pandemic.

Prior to COVID-19, the Capitol Child Development Center hosted a class of 70 children for daycare. Due to shortages in resources and staffing, the daycare center is now only able to host 20 children—their waiting list is completely full of children waiting to go back to daycare, many with parents waiting to go back to work. The high cost of childcare, coupled with a lack of resources and staffing at daycare centers brought on by the pandemic, has created a cyclical problem for childcare and for working moms and dads.

The House’s Build Back Better Act would help end the cycle, giving American families more access to quality childcare and leading the way to more economic opportunities. The bill would make historic investments to lower the cost of childcare, and would ensure that families pay no more than 7% of their income on childcare. The typical American family would save more than $100 on childcare each week under the Build Back Better Act. It would dramatically improve Connecticut’s “Care 4 Kids” program, which is capped at 100% of the state’s median income, with a payment requirement of up to 10%.

Read below for an overview of Rep. Courtney’s remarks, or click here to watch.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to spend a few minutes to talk about a visit to Connecticut last week by President Biden on October 15th, where he actually put the eyes of the country for a couple of hours on a critical issue which his Build Back Better agenda is focused on fixing—which is namely the crisis in child daycare all across the country.

On Friday, myself and my colleagues, as well as President Biden, visited the Capital Child Development Center, where the Executive Director, Barbara Joe Warner, laid out very clearly the dilemma that herself and her colleagues who are in this very struggling sector are faced with today.

Before COVID, her center had 70 slots for children completely full with a waiting list. Today, they have 20 children in the same daycare center.

Is it because there's no demand? No, that's not the case. There still is a waiting list of families who are trying to get their kids into daycare. But her problem is that the staffing that she had prior to COVID has severely diminished, and her ability to attract people back into her program is limited by the fact that she's only able to offer $13 an hour as a starting wage for people in a very important job for our country, as well as the families of the children that they take care of.

So, we're in a situation where they're in a place where McDonald's pays more at $15 an hour than a daycare center at $13 an hour. It's a problem which is, I think, one of the reasons why the jobs recovery has stalled—particularly for families and women heads of household who just don't have centers with slots available because of the staffing problem that Ms. Warner described to the President and to the world on Friday.

The Build Back Better legislation, which he discussed, finally […] focused on the content of the Build Back Better legislation, which is addressed to provide a huge infusion of support for our daycare sector.

What that provision will do is cap the amount of out-of-pocket [expenses] for families who are using child daycare at 7% of income. Today, the low- and middle-income families spend between 14% and 35% of their income on daycare. So, if we get this through, we are immediately going to provide savings for families with their kids in daycare.

In Connecticut, looking at a family making $87,000 a year, that basically would result in weekly savings of $175 a week, which is definitely a huge boost in terms of working families and middle-class families, which this bill will provide.

Again, I want to emphasize this is not a Connecticut problem. This is happening all across the country, and the median or the average salary for daycare centers across the country is actually $12 an hour, a little lower than what the President heard about on Friday. So, if we're serious about a real job recovery, and giving families the opportunity to really go back to work, why don't we listen to the US Chamber of Commerce, the largest business organization in the country, which recognized during COVID that support for child daycare is essential in terms of trying to get working age families back into the workforce?

Again, the openings are there. I could walk through employers in the state of Connecticut—Electric Boat in my district has about 500 job openings right now. They want to get those Gen Z’ers and Millennials trained up and ready to go, but if they don't have a place for their children to be cared for safely and adequately, then we are just basically in a cul-de-sac where this economy is going to be held back.

The Build Back Better agenda is not soft infrastructure. It is right at the heart of whether or not we are going to as a country fully recover and grow in the wake of this pandemic. And it is something that hopefully every Member, when the time comes for this package, when that daycare provision is included in there, will think about long and hard, because this is not a Connecticut-only issue. This affects every state, red and blue, every district, red and blue, every employer in red and blue areas of the country. And if anyone can't support that, then they're not serious about really helping this country recover from the pandemic.

Again, I want to thank the President for coming out and really focusing like a laser on this issue. And I want to thank Executive Director Barbara Joe Warner for her clear message to the country.

And I yield back the balance of my time.