Nearly 8 million Americans can't work because they don't have childcare

Lawmakers need to step up, starting with passing two pieces of legislation heading to the House this week.

u.s. childcare legislation

Childcare in America was a patchwork quilt full of holes before the pandemic, barely covering the needs of American families. Then the pandemic ripped the raggedy blanket away and revealed just how unprotected and vulnerable families and young children are in the United States.

According to U.S. Census data released last week, more than 7.5 million American workers could not work in July because they had to stay home to care for a child. Mothers will not stay silent as their children shiver and earnings freeze.

Childcare is key to the United States' economic recovery, and this week is key in the fight for childcare. Lawmakers need to step up and wrap families in a comprehensive childcare plan, starting with passing two pieces of legislation heading to the House this week.

This week, the House will vote on two key pieces of legislation aimed at helping families and the childcare industry. The Child Care for Economic Recovery Act (introduced by Massachusetts Democrats Rep. Katherine Clark and Rep. Richard E. Neal, the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman) aims to increase federal investment in childcare to $10 billion a year for each fiscal year from 2020 through 2024. That's a massive increase from the current yearly investment of less than $3 billion. The legislation would also see the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit made fully refundable.

The second piece of legislation is the Child Care is Essential Act, which was introduced by Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D), Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott (D) and Washington Senator Patty Murray (D). It proposes a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund be created within the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant to stabilize the childcare industry.

That number—$50 billion‚is what the childcare industry has been asking Congress for (and not received) since May. Since then, a survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found the nation is at risk of losing 40% of the pre-pandemic childcare center spots without federal assistance, and that gaps in the Paycheck Protection Program mean minority-owned childcare businesses are particularly at risk.

Rep. Richard E. Neal, the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman believe both the Child Care is Essential Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act are likely to pass the House this week, but whether they will then make it through the Senate and onto President Trump's desk is another matter.

There is some bipartisan support for investing in the childcare industry, though. Earlier this month, 41 Republican House members sent a letter to Congressional leadership calling for more support for the childcare industry,

The letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reads in part, "As our country moves towards economic recovery, no industry will be able to recover if a large portion of the workforce is unable to access the child care that they rely on to go to work. Additional federal investments will help ensure the child care industry's survival now and will in turn support our economic recovery in the coming months."

Separately from the letter, Republican senators Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (Texas) have called for federal support through the Back to Work Child Care Grants Act of 2020, which would provide nine months of financial assistance for childcare providers. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (Georgia) also called for an increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Ernst and Loeffler introduced a Senate resolution calling for $25 billion in child care relief funding, about half of what the industry is asking for.

On both sides of the aisle, lawmakers are listening as constituents, particularly Gen Z and Millennial voters, plead for help with childcare.

In November, we will see if voters go for Presidential Candidate Joe Biden's affordable childcare plan, but parents with bills to pay and no help to safely care for their kids can't wait that long. This week, when the Child Care is Essential Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act hit the floor of the House, desperate parents may finally see some much-needed forward momentum on the issue.

If nothing is done, and if party politics prevents the numerous ideas from gaining traction, the United States may have to prepare for an even worse economic downturn. Yes, having 7.5 million American workers out of work because they don't have childcare is bad, but if even more day care centers close it's going to get a lot worse.

In This Article

    The weighted blanket you need to make it through the rest of 2020 is on sale today only

    If you want to sleep on a cloud, this is your chance.

    If I had a dollar for everything I've added to a virtual cart over the past eight months thinking, "I need this. We're in a pandemic." I, well, I'd be able to afford like 1/8 the grand total. From "stress-relieving" aroma diffusers (going to need like an ocean's worth of lavender oil here) to jetted foot spas, there's really nothing I'm not cart-curious about if it might in some small way make the monotony of work, kids, Netflix, repeat just a little more bearable.

    Occasionally, I actually pull the trigger. And most of the time, I'm so glad I did. Case in point: A weighted blanket.

    Unless you've been living on a remote island for the past few years (where do I sign up?), you've definitely heard of weighted blankets by now. If not, I'll catch you up. Harnessing the power of deep pressure stimulation, these grounding blankets can help reduce anxiety, improve sleep and bring about a deeper sense of relaxation. They're championed by parents of kiddos on the spectrum as a tool to help them calm down, by mamas of toddlers who have a hard time sleeping in their own bed, and of course, everyone who has turned to one in hopes of not staring at the ceiling at 3 am AGAIN.

    Admittedly, I wondered if they could possibly be worth the hype. But as the market flooded with dozens of options and the world became a real dumpster fire, it wasn't a question of "should I get one" so much as it was a question of "which one should I get"—because if they're selling calm, I'm buying.

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    Stylish storage cabinet

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    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.


    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

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