Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined a number of her colleagues, led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), in speaking on the Senate floor about how the worsening childcare crisis is hurting families and local economies in every state—and stressing the need to address the crisis by acting on President Biden’s supplemental funding request to extend important stabilization funds. Joining Senators Smith and Murray were Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ron Wyden, (D-OR), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
“Childcare is one of the top issues I hear about from Minnesotans. I hear from families who have to drive more than 50 miles to get their kids to childcare, families who are spending more than one-third of their household income on the cost of care for two kids. No one is well-served by our current childcare system,” said Senator Smith on the Senate floor. “We know that the programs stabilizing the sector worked. We know how much they helped parents and how much they benefited our economy. We must provide additional funding for childcare in a future supplemental to help providers stay afloat, allow parents to continue working, and keep children in quality care.
Throughout her time in the Senate, Senator Smith has led efforts to expand access to childcare. In addition to leading the push to stabilize the childcare sector, this year she has introduced bipartisan legislation to bring more childcare to more agricultural and rural communities. She has also supports a host of bills to reform our childcare system, including the Child Care for Working Families Act and the Child Care for Every Community Act. One of the first bills she authored in the Senate was the Child Care Supply Improvement Act, that would fund childcare facilities and help childcare providers navigate important health and safety requirements, in addition to supporting the creation of childcare businesses.
Childcare is a major concern for families and a top economic challenge. Each year, the childcare crisis costs the U.S. over$120 billion. A recent report by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) found that the childcare stabilization program passed by Congressional Democrats saved families with young children about $1,250 per child per year and helped hundreds of thousands of women with children enter or rejoin the workforce more quickly. The program helped 220,000 child care providers keep their doors open—helping to protect childcare for as many as 10 million kids nationwide. Since the funding expired at the end of September, the sector is once again on the brink—with terrible consequences for families and communities nationwide.
An October survey of childcare providers and families showed that 29% of families reported their childcare tuition costs went up in the preceding month, 28% of childcare providers who ran out of stabilization funding had to cut wages or were unable to sustain salary increases, and 24% reported they were now serving fewer children.
You can watch Senator Smith’s floor speech here.