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Congress may increase child-care funding but it won’t fix systemic problems, advocates say

The House of Representatives passed a $1.5 trillion bipartisan spending package Wednesday that includes about $18.4 billion in funding for key child care and early learning programs, Fortune reported

The omnibus package, which is expected to pass the Senate this week, includes increases for a number of federal child care and early education programs, including roughly $11 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start and $6.2 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. The grant provides federal funding to states for child-care subsidies for low-income families and child care providers. 

While the proposed package provides funding for critical federal programs that help millions of American children and families, it doesn’t include most of President Joe Biden’s previous proposals for universal pre-kindergarten, subsidized child care or training and support for early childhood educators. The funding also doesn’t address the “sweeping, systemic problems” that many experts say plague the child care industry. 

Throughout the pandemic, child care providers have faced increased operating costs, razor-thin profit margins, unpredictable attendance and hiring challenges, all of which took a toll on an industry already in crisis.  

“The omnibus spending package includes modest, needed increases in funding to narrow and existing programs, ones that serve only a portion of eligible low-income children,” says Julie Kashen,  a senior fellow and director for women’s economic justice at the Century Foundation, an advocacy organization. “In other words, it provides a little extra support to a sector that has teetered on the brink during COVID,” Fortune reported.