The end of a pandemic-era child care funding program could spell doom for millions of American families. But experts are divided on just how devastating the change will be. Here’s the full story.
Washington to the Rescue
One of the measures the federal government put into place to help the United States weather the financial crunch of the COVID-19 pandemic was a $1.9 trillion relief package called the American Rescue Plan.
Keeping the Lights On
As part of that plan, about $24 billion in grants went to child care providers across the country.
That money helped daycares pay their bills while the country was in lockdown.
Tough to Keep Up
When the gridlock of the deepest part of the pandemic started to let up in 2021 and 2022, that money helped the child care centers pay the rising salaries of their workers.
Mom and Dad Cut Them Off
But all of that cashflow came to a screeching stop at the end of September.
Child Care Cliff
The long dreaded expiration of the federal grants has long been referred to by experts as the “child care cliff.”
Predictions about the aftermath have been dire.
One study that’s often cited came from a liberal think tank called the Century Foundation in the fall of 2022.
They Went to the Horse’s Mouth
In that study, Century surveyed about 12,000 early childhood educators and asked them about how important the grants that came out of the American Rescue Plan had been to them.
They Wouldn’t Have Survived
More than a third of those professionals said that their child care centers would have closed during the pandemic if it hadn’t been for the government money.
So Century Foundation did a little math and applied that 34 percent to an estimated 220,000 child care programs serving about 9.6 million kids across the United States.
Lean Times Ahead
That led to Century reporting that as many as 70,000 child care providers could go out of business when the program expired.
Streets Flooded With Toddlers
And if that came to pass, more than 3 million children would be left without care. That’s a huge number and could spell chaos for millions of families.
They’re Not Buying It
But not everyone is buying the extent of the problems that will result from the child care cliff.
Conservatives Have Their Doubts
Patrick T. Brown of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative counterpart to the Century foundation, is one of the doubters.
Numbers Too High
Brown agrees that many families will have to make adjustments, but also adds ““I do not think 25 percent of kids are going to lose their child care.”
They Have an Agenda
He thinks Century is touting a worst-case scenario to bolster their own agenda.
Only in the Worst Case
And Century Foundation’s director for women’s economic justice Julie Kashen agrees.
She says that last year’s report presents the most dire outcome, which is unlikely.
Going Through the Motions
Meanwhile, Vox reports that Democrats introduced an $18 billion proposal to keep the funding flowing over the summer, but that they didn’t expect it to gain much ground.
It Withered Away
And, with zero Republican support and President Biden reserving his negotiating weight for overall budgetary issues, that child care proposal died on the vine.
Everyone Wants to Help
But Vox also reports that there is widespread support across the country for increasing federal money for child care.
Polls show that even 60 percent or more of Republicans support a bump, with Democrats well above that mark.
Families Will Feel the Crunch
In the end, it seems likely that many families are going to feel the crunch as some child care facilities die off post-cliff.
A Brighter Future
The overall mood of those in the know, though, paints a fairly optimistic picture for the future.
A Taste of Nirvana
Indeed, as Sarah Rittling of the First Five Years Fund told Vox, “The pandemic gave us all a better sense of what it means to have more money in the child care system.”
No Turning Back
And no one seems to want to go backward in that regard.
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The post Parents in Panic as the ‘Child Care Cliff’ Crisis Looms! – Will Your Child Be Left Stranded? first appeared on Career Step Up.
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