As day cares and child care providers prepare to reopen, Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark (D – MA 5th) announced a new bill with proposed funding for providers.
In her new bill, The Child Care is Infrastructure Act, Clark proposed the federal government invest 10 billion dollars in child care infrastructure over the next five years.
“We are hearing from parents who are concerned about rising costs, especially coming out of a time where they had to scale back their income or haven’t had an income,” Rep. Clark said.
Lindsay McCluskey from Malden was blindsided Tuesday when her 3-year-old son’s day care announced it’s closing its doors for good due to the financial impact of COVID-19.
“There’s about 60 families that depend on them for child care and great teachers who are going to be out of their jobs. It was a big blow to our family and all of the other families that are going to be out of child care,” McCluskey said.
McCluskey and her partner will now turn to family and neighbors for help but said it’s time the government steps in.
“We really need a public investment. There’s a gap between what families can afford to pay and what providers deserve to earn, and I think it really is up to government to fill in that gap and invest,” she said.
Rep. Clark said it’s time now more than ever for federal support.
“What we know is that child care was in a crisis before this pandemic, and after this pandemic it has shown us that this is going to be a critical sector to making sure that people can get back to work,” the congresswoman said.
Rep. Clark’s announcement came the same week Massachusetts loosened reopening guidelines on day cares.
Now children ages 2 and up will not be required to wear face coverings. Staff also no longer has to check each child’s temperature at the beginning of the day. But caregivers must wear masks when they can’t social distance, and the state is encouraging centers to reconfigure space to promote social distancing between children and staff.
“The point of this legislation is to give those resources to providers so that they can make accommodations in their centers, in their family child care homes, so that they can keep everyone safe, whether that’s building a new modular wall or creating a hand washing station. All those types of infrastructure costs are prohibitive for providers and get passed on to parents,” Rep. Clark said.
Rep. Clark, who is Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, said she’s confident the bill will find support in the House.