Langevin Backs Bills to Address COVID Child Care Crisis

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today voted in favor of H.R. 7027, the Child Care Is Essential Act, and H.R. 7327, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, two bills that prioritize public health, support child care providers reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and their employees, and provide relief for working families struggling to find child care. H.R. 7027 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 249-163 and H.R. 7327 by a vote of 250-161.

“As we take measured steps to reopen, families need access to safe and affordable child care so parents and guardians can return to work,” said Langevin. “The COVID-19 pandemic created massive disruptions in the child care sector and has made it even tougher for hardworking parents to access quality services. Passage of the Child Care Is Essential Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act comes at a critical time and will make help available for parents, providers on the brink of closure, and childcare workers whose jobs are on the line.”

The Childcare Is Essential Act creates a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund to provide grants to child care providers, including child care centers and home-based child care providers, to help them safely reopen and operate. Rhode Island would receive an estimated $117,362,706 in federal assistance from this bill, which would help preserve more than 6,000 licensed child care slots in danger of disappearing. Aid from the fund may be used to cover personnel, sanitation and cleaning, health and safety training, and other costs related to the pandemic.

Further, this bill prioritizes support for child care facilities that provide services to underserved communities and helps child care workers by requiring providers to continue to employ and pay their employees at pre-pandemic levels. It also seeks to keep child care affordable for families by requiring all providers receiving grant funds to provide assistance to families for tuition costs. The legislation will ensure safety of facilities by requiring that all providers 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 builds on the Child Care Is Essential Act by providing ongoing federal investments and tax relief to help improve access to quality child care and support working parents. The legislation invests $10 billion in infrastructure over the next five years to improve child care safety at public and private facilities, provides $850 million in state aid to support family care for essential workers, and increases funding for federal child care programs.

The bill also includes increased tax benefits for families with children. It enhances the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) by making it refundable and allowing it to cover up to half of a taxpayer’s childcare expenses. Under this proposal, families with one child would be eligible for a credit of up to $3,000 while those with more than one child would be eligible for a credit of up to $6,000.

The legislation also doubles the amount that can be contributed to dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and provides employers a new 30 percent refundable payroll tax credit for employee dependent care benefits that they provide. It also creates a 50 percent refundable payroll tax credit for mortgage and rent obligations and utility payments incurred by struggling child care facilities that have seen reductions in revenue or are facing closure because of the pandemic.