Senator Murray, Colleagues Take to Floor to Share How Child Care Crisis is Hurting Constituents, Urge Action from Congress


***WATCH and READ: Senator Murray’s remarks***


***WATCH: Senate highlight urgency of tackling growing child care crisis on Senate floor***


Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, led a number of her colleagues in speaking on the Senate floor about how the worsening child care crisis is hurting families and local economies in every state in the country—and stressing the need to address the crisis by acting on President Biden’s supplemental funding request to extend vital stabilization funds.


“We cannot pretend child care is any less urgent than the other challenges we face,” Senator Murray said on the floor. “The writing is on the wall right now, in big, bold letters: the child care crisis is only going to get worse unless we take action—and soon!”


“Back in my state, I’ve heard so many stories of families struggling with this. I just read a story about two parents: Lara and Rob—Rob had to leave his company to get a more flexible schedule because child care was too expensive, so he and Lara have to trade off shifts and work fewer hours to make sure someone is watching the kids. And they are far from the only ones struggling with this. Monica, a therapist and former child care worker—who trades off working and watching the kids with her husband, a police officer. And Skye, who also is trading off shifts with her husband, since their child care provider closed,” said Senator Murray. “Failing to shore up the child care industry that holds up nearly every sector of our economy, in the midst of a workforce shortage that is hitting small businesses and big firms alike will cost us much more than the investment in child care we are asking for. We are going to lose jobs. We are going to lose workers, and our economy will continue to lose billions more in lost wages, revenue, and growth.”


“We have to act to restore the child care funding that created breathing room for our providers and our families. And I stand together with my colleagues to do all we can to support President Biden’s request that we add $16 billion in child care funding at this most critical time,” Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) said.


“Childcare is one of the top issues I hear about from Minnesotans. I hear from families who have to drive more than 50 miles to get their kids to childcare, families who are spending more than one-third of their household income on the cost of care for two kids. No one is well-served by our current childcare system,” said Senator Tina Smith (D-MN). “We know that the programs stabilizing the sector worked. We know how much they helped parents and how much they benefited our economy. We must provide additional funding for childcare in a future supplemental to help providers stay afloat, allow parents to continue working, and keep children in quality care.”


“I’ve visited child care centers across my state—from Littleton to Rochester and Manchester to Keene—and have seen closed classrooms and strained facilities in every corner of the Granite State,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “I’m glad that the President included $16 billion for support for child care in his domestic supplemental appropriations request to Congress. We need to act swiftly to stabilize the child care industry that our families, workforce, communities, and economies rely on.”


“Without Congressional action, 3 million children are projected to lose access to child care, 70,000 child care programs could close. Bring that to Rhode Island, it’s 21,000 kids in my state who could lose access to child care, 680 child care workers could lose their jobs, 419 different child care providers could close. We simply cannot let that happen. It is wrong,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). “We need to extend the child care stabilization program, and while we’re at it, we should reestablish the Child Tax Credit.”


“When you are living on a more modest salary, not a poverty wage, but just a modest, lower- to middle-income salary, your entire world could fall apart if you lose access to a quality child care environment. People have to quit their jobs. They have to move back in with their parents. They have to move their entire family to a different city or a different state. Your entire life gets upended when you can’t find care for your child,” said Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). “And so what we are forcing our families to do, simply because we don't choose to do the right thing and provide funding to make sure that there are affordable, quality child care centers available, is sending our families into unnecessary crisis all over this country.”


“As a proud supporter of the Child Care Stabilization Act, and as the author of the Building Child Care for a Better Future Act, I strongly believe that child care is the lifeblood of the American economy,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). “Congress has an obligation to keep the child care sector afloat. I stand here today ready to find a path forward to make sure that every family in America has access to the child care they need.”


“Some parents who can’t afford child care have to stay home with their kids instead of re-entering the workforce. Nearly 39% of women with children younger than 5 years old have quit their jobs in the last 3 years. Over 90% of those women willingly decided to leave their jobs and stop earning an income, not because they were laid off or had their hours cut back,” said Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV). “The lack of resources for child care in this country is hurting our children, our families, and our economy. We must expand access to child care now.”

“The child care industry is like the scaffolding that our entire economy rests on. When that scaffolding collapses, down goes the economy. President Biden understands that, and he has requested the critical funding needed to keep this crucial scaffolding standing. It’s time we come together on a bipartisan basis and act,”
said Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).


“The need for high-quality child care is one of those issues I hear about all over Minnesota, from the Iron Range up north to our farming towns in southern Minnesota, from urban areas in the Twin Cities to suburbs across the Metro. It doesn't matter how qualified you are or how badly you may want a job. If there is no one to watch your kids, you can’t go to work,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “While we work to strengthen our child care workforce and build facilities where families need the most, we need to ensure that our child care centers have the funding they need to provide affordable, high quality care.”


“While I’m proud that Massachusetts has invested to saved almost 1,000 childcare programs from closure, we can’t expect states to keep plugging the holes of a failing system,” said Senator Markey. “If we want children, families, and providers to thrive we need to fund stabilization and address the child care crisis at the federal level. Child care is essential to support this generation and the next, and we must treat it that way.”


In remarks on the floor, Senators from across the country shared how vital child care is to constituents in their states, how the expiration of stabilization funds is further straining the child care sector, families, and local economies, and how essential it is that Congress take action to address the growing crisis.


Child care is a top concern for families and a top economic challenge—each year, the child care crisis costs the U.S. economy over $120 billion. A recent report by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) found that the child care stabilization program Senator Murray and congressional Democrats passed saved families with young children who rely on paid child care about $1,250 per child per year and helped hundreds of thousands of women with children enter or rejoin the workforce more quickly. The program helped 220,000 child care providers keep their doors open and reached 96% of counties nationwide—helping to protect child care for as many as 10 million kids nationwide. But now that the funding expired at the end of September, the sector is once again on the brink—with terrible consequences for families and communities nationwide.


An October survey of child care providers and families shows that 29% of families reported their child care tuition costs went up in the preceding month, 28% of child care providers who ran out of stabilization funding had to cut wages or were unable to sustain salary increases, and 24% reported they were now serving fewer children.