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The Alliance for Early Success and National Allies Brief State Advocates on the State of Federal Child Care Relief

In response to a growing concern among state advocates about the state of federal child care relief, the Alliance convened some of the issue’s leading national advocacy organizations for a federal child care update and guidance on what site advocates can do next.

THE READOUT

Presenters on It is Time for Congress to Act: Emergency Federal Child Care Update included experts from the Center for American Progress (CAP), EducationCounsel, First Five Years Fund (FFYF), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) and the National Women’s Law Center. 
 
We’re at a critical juncture for child care and we can’t let up now. Below is a recap of the call and the resources shared to help you keep up the fight for including child care in the next federal relief package.
 
Missed the engaging informative and inspiring presentation and discussion? You can watch the recording here.
 
What We Know
 
Lucy Recio with NAEYC shared how their work has been shaped by voices and experiences from the field, their most recent work spotlighting the reality that costs are rapidly rising while enrollments have dropped. Also underscored was the inequity of Payroll Protection Program distribution and the fact that the pandemic quickly outstripped the impact of the eight-week support. You can check out their powerful surveys and resulting reports with state data here, including the most recent release a few weeks ago where the “data makes it clear that if help doesn’t come soon in order to save child care, there will be little left of child care to save.” Are there providers in your state that have permanently closed? NAEYC is looking to collect those stories.
 
Anne Hedgepeth with CCAoA echoed hearing reports similar to those in the NAEYC surveys and lifted up their hub of stories collected, in which the common refrain is “providers might not make it.” This hub — as well as CCAoA’s emergency technical assistance center — are two powerful tools for advocates to tap as you continue sharing the stories and challenges facing the field when you’re advocating with your members of Congress. Anne also highlighted that CCAoA has produced resources in Spanish as well, like this one.
 
Shana Bartley with National Women’s Law Center detailed the impacts of storytelling projects around the country and the powerful force they’ve been for informing lawmakers and changing the narrative on what caregiving means in this country and why it matters. With storytelling as one of the most compelling tools we have at our disposal, you can check out this effective storybook that highlights the voices of parents, grandparents, early childhood educators, home-based child care providers, and small business owners. (And note that some of the narratives included have been used widely in the media and in Congress, including in Speaker Pelosi’s comments on the Child Care is Essential Act.) Additionally, check out these talking points and these social media resources to help your federal advocacy efforts. 
 
NWLC also put together a great report that details state impacts and stressed that if you want more information or need additional strategies or ideas on storytelling to reach out to them.
 
Overview of Executive Actions
 
Danielle Ewen from EducationCounsel gave an overview of last week’s executive actions and pointed attendees to this FAQ from the Washington Post. Below is a quick recap of the actions that included three memos and one order:
 
  1. A memo deferred student loans until 12/31, in accordance with action that had previously been taken via the CARES Act but the clock had run out on. This is likely legal and the least controversial of the four actions taken.
  2. A memo to take action on Unemployment Insurance – stating the Feds will send $300 of FEMA funds to states who can opt in and that states can choose to layer an extra $100 for a total of $400 per month. The pot totals $44b (and not new money, just money moved around) and it’s estimated the extra bump won’t last past September. Even if legal, not all states will opt to put additional money in and it also will require states to stand up separate unemployment systems.
  3. A memo took action to establish a payroll tax deferment until 12/31. This DEFERS but doesn’t FORGIVE. Meaning that even if found legal, employers will be on the hook to pay later. If found not to be legal there’s a chance businesses will not only have to pay what’s owed but also a penalty. 
  4.  In an Executive Order the President directed HUD and DHS to consider the implementation of an eviction moratorium.
 
Status of Negotiations
 
Sarah Rubinfield of FFYF reported that there’s been great bipartisan momentum on child care in both the House and the Senate – like the inclusion of child care in both the HEALS and HEROES acts and the dozens of letters being signed onto by members of both major parties and sent to leadership. Or this letter signed by Chambers of Commerce from around the country. Or even this letter to the White House underscoring child care is a “purple” issue.
 
The Senate is on recess until September 8th and the House returns on September 14th. And while both chambers have been put on notice that they may be called to return earlier, as each day passes the urgency greatly increases. The window in the coming weeks is critical to make the case that the challenges facing child care haven’t been resolved and must be a priority. If advocates let the noise die down, even for a moment, it may be assumed that the issue has resolved itself. Remain unrelenting in lifting up the issue while they’re on recess and “in district.”
 
Next Steps
 
Erin Robinson of CAP pointed to some useful resources being coordinated across national groups working to save child care, including this Child Care Relief Campaign toolkit that includes sample language, background info to help answer questions, templates and “how to’s” on contacting members of Congress. As senators and representatives hold town halls when they are home over the next few weeks. Erin says advocates should be there with an urgent message that they need to #SaveChildCare. You can print out and hold up one of these three signs with a message on the front, and some talking points on the back. They work just as well online as they do in person!  Zoom backgrounds also get the message across, and presenters on the call were using these: Child Care Zoom Background 1Child Care Zoom Background 2Child Care Zoom Background 3, and Child Care Zoom Background 4. Keeping a constant visual presence across virtual spaces and platforms is another way to ensure the issue of child care is not be overlooked in the next relief package. Letters to the Editor can also help lift up the issue leveraging critical constituent voices and be shared with Congressional staff in creating greater visibility.
     
Stay tuned for coordinated national action – like previous efforts that generated over 23,000 connects to Congress – as the negotiations unfold. National partners will be working together to create rapid response documents, like this new #SaveChildCare toolkit from CAP with new resources that help us all stay nimble and meet the moment with our powerful advocacy. 
 
The Path Forward
 
Lauren Hogan of NAEYC closed with an inspiring message: While we’re angry that children are without care, providers are shutting down, and a field that is told it is essential is being ignored, we are resolved. Resolved to do everything we can and center the voices of providers and families, so they’re heard. We can’t know exactly what happens next, she said, but what we do know is that we’ve only gotten this far because of the great work that’s been done. This is a collective problem that requires collective action. Congress can’t get away with assuming that the child care field will figure it out like we always have. We cannot accept that. We must help each other to keep it up because we can – and will – do this together.            
 
Each presenter told advocates to reach out if they needed more guidance and to tay tuned – and ready – for collective action opportunities in the near future.

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