CLEVELAND, OH – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a call with child care providers, teachers, parents and caregivers hosted by Groundwork Ohio. On the call, Brown spoke about the importance of child care, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic and his work to ensure Ohio families have the help and resources they need.
“When child care eats up more and more of families’ budgets, and more and more families don’t make enough to afford it – yet child care workers don’t make enough to care for their own families – we have a broken system,” said Brown. “We have to both help families and providers get through this pandemic – safely, and without going bankrupt – and we have to build something better on the other side. We can’t go back to “business as usual” when that wasn’t working for a whole lot of people.”
Brown was joined on the call by Shannon Jones, Executive Director of Groundwork Ohio, Patti Gleason of Learning Grove in Cincinnati, Christie Angel of YWCA Columbus, Misti Norman, Heavenly Kids Center for Learning in Columbus and Peg Tazewell of Knox County Head Start as well as hundreds of audience members from around the state.
Last year, Brown introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, a comprehensive early learning and child care bill to ensure affordable, high-quality child care for working middle class families and those living paycheck to paycheck. The Child Care for Working Families Act would address the current early learning and care crisis by ensuring that no family under 150 percent of state median income pays more than seven percent of their income on child care. The bill would also support universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year olds. Finally, the bill would significantly improve compensation and training for the child care workforce to ensure that our nation’s teachers and caregivers have the support they need, as well as the children they are caring for, to thrive.
Brown is also a cosponsor of the Child Care is Essential Act, a bill that would create a $50 billion child care stabilization fund within the CCDBG program. It would allow providers to begin reopening and continue operating with reduced capacity. The grants would require providers to continue paying their staff, provide tuition and copay relief for working families, promote health and safety through compliance with public health guidance, prioritize providers that serve underserved populations, and conduct oversight through reporting requirements.
In May, Brown joined Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and 28 of their Senate colleagues in calling on Senate leadership to include their plan for a $50 billion child care bailout in the next coronavirus relief package, saying it is an indispensable part of the nation’s response to the pandemic. In a recent Columbus Dispatch report that surveyed child care facilities in Ohio, 34% of the 78 facilities surveyed said that some parents are unable to pay fees or copays – 46% reported lost income because revenue is based on attendance rather than enrollment.
In March, Brown voted in favor of the CARES Act, which provided $3.5 billion in additional funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant to provide child care assistance for health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus.
Brown also continues to push for pandemic premium pay to be included in any future stimulus package. Brown recently unveiled his ‘Heroes Fund’ proposal. Which would help reward, retain and recruit essential workers who are on the frontlines of this pandemic, including child care workers.