Record Bipartisan Congressional Support for Early Childhood Programs
A record number of House Republicans and Democrats signed letters of support for robust child care funding
This year, a record number of Republicans and Democrats publicly urged robust federal funding for child care and early learning programs. Republican support for federal funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) nearly doubled to 35 Republican signers this year, up from 18 for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23).
Both the Republican and Democratic child care funding letters cited data from ReadyNation, a national membership organization of business leaders under Council for a Strong America. In February, ReadyNation released a research report finding that the infant-toddler child care crisis costs the U.S. economy $122 billion each year in lost productivity, revenue, and earnings. This staggering figure has more than doubled since 2018. Additionally, the same report found that 85 percent of primary caregivers said problems with child care hurt their efforts or time commitment at work. Affordable child care is not only a key resource to support the healthy development of infants and toddlers, but it is also incredibly valuable to the American workforce.
The House Republican letter states: “A recent report by ReadyNation indicates that insufficient access to child care costs working parents $78 billion per year in lost earnings, businesses $23 billion per year in lost productivity, and taxpayers $21 billion per year in lost revenue, for a total economic impact of $122 billion each year. Given the importance of this program to working families across the country and the fundamental role of child care in our economy, there is a critical need for robust CCDBG funding.”
The Democratic letter states: “Child care challenges for parents and caregivers in the workforce cost the economy an estimated $122 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue, while productivity problems associated with child care challenges cost employers $23 billion annually.”
“What we’ve learned through years of policy advocacy and listening to business leaders and lawmakers alike is that the child care crisis is a challenge too big for anyone to solve alone. Business leaders, working parents, and lawmakers must all play an active role in finding and executing solutions,” said Barry Ford, President and CEO of Council for a Strong America. “Our goal is to bring these various players together so that policymakers can better understand the needs of working families and business leaders—and why public investments in high-quality early childhood supports will pay dividends today and in the years and decades to come.”
CCDBG funding provides subsidies to families with low incomes to purchase child care from providers in their area. The funding also gives states flexibility to improve quality of care.
Bipartisan support also increased this year for funding other early childhood programs. Total Representatives in both parties publicly supporting Preschool Development Grants, Birth to Five (PDG B-5) increased to 94 bipartisan signers this year, up from 88 the previous year. This year the Republican Head Start letter saw an increase to 24 signers, and the Democratic Head Start letter saw a total of 166 signers.
“It’s no surprise that Democrat and Republican lawmakers have come together to call for the clear prioritization to America’s core early learning and care programs,” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “To have such clear, cross-aisle agreement on any major issue is almost unheard of in today’s ever-polarizing climate, but Members have long been steadfast in their support for investing in early learning to meet the needs of families, young children, and our economy. We look forward to working with Congressional appropriators to deliver much needed support to America’s families.”
ReadyNation and Council for a Strong America thank the signers in both parties for recognizing child care as a key workforce support. The U.S. House Appropriations Committee must take action to strengthen support for child care and other early childhood programs in the FY24 funding bill. Our country’s families and economy depend on it.
Read the full text of the letters with signatures. For a list of all signers sorted by state and congressional district, click here.
- House Republican child care funding letter requesting “robust” funding: 35 signers
- House Democratic child care and early childhood special education letter requesting $12.4B for CCDBG, $932 Million for IDEA Special Education Grants for Infants and Families, and $502.6 million for IDEA Preschool Grants: 147 signers
- Bipartisan PDG B-5 letter requesting $500 million: 94 signers
- House Republican Head Start letter requesting “robust” funding: 24 signers
- House Democratic Head Start letter requesting $17.47 billion: 166 signers
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