child care costs

Officials Scramble to Save Federal Child Care Subsidy Proposal

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The cost of daycare for a family with two children can exceed a mortgage payment and many parents can’t keep up with the cost.

Now, officials want the federal government to step in.

It’s part of the Build Back Better bill. The bill, which is stuck in negotiations in Congress, would guarantee parents would not spend more than seven percent of their income on child care and it would help increase pay for child care workers.

“We’ll never get our economy going again unless we make sure there’s quality daycare, childcare,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. 

Lamont said the billions of dollars to support child care is the most crucial part of the Build Back Better bill.

“If you ask me, what is the most important piece of this that we’ve got to get passed is the early child care, daycare and universal pre-K, that’s what I want to see passed,” Lamont said.

At a separate press conference today, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he would be willing to break out that $400 billion part of the legislation.

“If we need to break apart that multi-trillion-dollar program and do it in chunks, child care should be first or among the first on the list to do,” Blumenthal said. 

During the pandemic, Connecticut lost about one percent of its child care centers and home-based care, which is far less than the 10 percent average experienced by other states.

“We had 90 classrooms that were not staffed before Omicron hit,” Merrill Gay, executive director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance said. 

Gay said the pandemic has made the situation worse.

“Child care is very expensive for families. There isn’t the price elasticity that you have with a donut shop where you can raise the cup of coffee price by a quarter and be able to pay your staff more,” Gay said.

COVID-19 has also had an impact.

“There were about 35 classrooms closed because of workforce, not having enough workforce in those 35 classrooms,” Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye said.

Bye said child care continues to be unable to pay their workers more.

“There’s a mismatch between what parents can afford and what it costs to run a program,” Bye said.

“We’re putting too much on the backs of families and the most devastating reality is child care workers, child care professionals pouring themselves into this work and they’re getting paid far lower than many other fields,” David Morgan of Teams, Inc. in Waterbury said.

But the future of the child care subsidy is uncertain now that U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has spiked his Build Back Better compromises.

Blumenthal was headed back to Washington on Monday to continue negotiations.

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