Legislation being introduced in both chambers on Wednesday would provide $16 billion a year over the next five years, awarded as grants to help child care programs cover everyday costs. It’s meant to replace $24 billion in relief that was passed in 2021 in the American Rescue Plan and is set to expire Sept. 30.
With no Republican support, the bill faces an uphill battle in Congress.
Hoping to buffer the industry against the upheaval of the pandemic, Congress created a child care stabilization program in 2021. States were given a total of $24 billion to distribute to local programs. It helped more than 220,000 programs, often being used to pay staff or cover rent and utilities, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The average annual price for U.S. child care in 2022 was $10,800 per child, according to Child Care Aware of America, a nonprofit advocacy group.
President Joe Biden has called for expanded child care support, but his biggest proposal stalled amid a polarized Congress and Democratic infighting.
Under Biden’s Build Back Better Act in 2021, parents earning up to 250% of a state’s median income would have paid no more than 7% of their income on child care. But that that bill failed to win support from Democratic holdouts, and the child care plan was later stripped from a slimmer package approved by Congress.