Oregon Business – Long Term Child Care Solution on the Horizon
Representative Suzanne Bonamici joins her fellow legislators to reintroduce a law to make child care more accessible.
Before Democrats took control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat who represents Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, made the state’s child care crisis his priority.
In September 2020, she created the Oregon Child Care Advisory Board, a 12-member group, which was selected to advise her on child care issues and how federal legislation could be used to support children and working parents.
Now, Democrats control both houses of Congress and the White House. After a flurry of bills to revive the economy after COVID-19, including the US $ 1.9 trillion bailout, Democratic lawmakers see an opportunity to move forward with legislation on the childcare.
RELATED STORY: Pandemic Speeds Up Child Care Solutions
On March 16, Bonamici and New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman reintroduced Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark’s proposal. Child care is the Infrastructure Act. The legislation establishes loan and grant programs for child care centers and early childhood educators to stem the child care crisis in Oregon and across the country.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How Does the Child Care is Infrastructure Act Support Oregon Businesses?
Oregon’s 36 counties are considered infant and toddler child care deserts, meaning there is only one location available for three children who need it. This problem affects all sectors of our economy, including working poor, essential workers and single parents.
We had an academic research hearing recently, and one of the main issues that came up was the researchers who said, “We can’t do this job because we don’t have a daycare. ”
What the Child Care is Infrastructure Act does is recognize the importance of child care to our families and our economy. It invests in facilities and providers, establishes grant programs to improve state facilities, and establishes a graduate loan repayment program for early childhood educators, which is also very critical. It also funds campus daycares to support student parents.
If we invest in children today it pays off many times over because they come into the school system ready to learn. Families do not miss as much work and we spend less on welfare services if families are supported in this way.
Another thing we touched on was the child tax credit with a refundable tax credit of $ 1,600 per child. We were also able to secure critical funding for Head Start, which will help families access child care. It is estimated that this halves poverty.
In Oregon, this credit will go to families with 700,000 children. On top of that, we have Economic Impact Payments, which will go to 2.7 million adults and over 970,000 children in Oregon. The state will receive $ 400 million as part of the Child Care Development Block Grant program. The money we spend goes directly back to our communities.
Once the pandemic subsides, won’t the laws of supply and demand solve the problem of child care?
Access to child care is a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic not created by the pandemic. This is not something for which there is necessarily a market solution because you cannot increase tuition fees to pay providers since families are already paying as much as they can.
You cannot lower the tuition fees because these providers often already receive miserable salaries. Vendors who work in some of the larger places have college degrees and student loans.
One parent I spoke to said, “For any working family, child care is one of our basic needs. If it crumbles or even becomes a little harder to find, our collective capacity to work also crumbles. ”
It mainly affects women. Often times, women of color are more likely to be babysitters and they cannot return to work. It is also a question of gender and race.
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Is there Republican support for this legislation?
Investing in child care should not and has not been a partisan issue. There has been recognition on both sides of the aisle that this is something important. Across the country there has been this recognition, evidenced by the pandemic, that we need to have child care or we will not be able to reopen our economy.
Paying off student loans is a big part of your plan. President Biden recently forgave $ 1 billion in student debt. Will this continue to be a priority in future legislation?
I spent seven years in higher education and came away with very manageable debt, but that’s not what students are telling me now. We hear too many reports from troubled youth.
I am grateful to see the Biden administration stand up and recognize that students who have been conned into debt have a right to have their debt canceled. Much of this debt comes from unscrupulous for-profit institutions that leave students with a lot of debt and little education.
We need more Pell scholarships, work study, and programs like TRIO, which help students afford higher education. All in all, this is an issue that we will be discussing for a while, but it is important that we do not end up writing off debts for some without addressing the issue of people going to college and falling into debt. a lot.
We need to make the university affordable. Finances shouldn’t be a barrier for anyone who wants to go to college. We also need to consider the paths people can take outside of quorum. We have just updated the national apprenticeship law for the first time since the 1930s.
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