Senators Rosen, Ernst and Reps. Lee, Stauber Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Expand Child Care Availability

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) – both members of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship – alongside Representatives Susie Lee (D-NV) and Pete Stauber (R-MN) announced their introduction of the Small Business Child Care Investment Act. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation would make non-profit child care providers that are small businesses eligible to participate in all loan programs available through the Small Business Administration (SBA) – the same opportunity currently provided to for-profit providers –thereby supporting these small businesses in expanding the availability of affordable, high-quality child care to more working families. Around half of families in the United States live in “child care deserts”, with few options for licensed child care. This is an even greater problem for rural areas, low-income, and minority communities.

 “The COVID-19 pandemic has made access to quality, affordable child care all the more difficult; hindering parents — particularly mothers — from taking part in our workforce,” said Senator Rosen. “Even before the onset of COVID-19, half of U.S. families reported difficulty finding access to affordable child care – hurting their financial stability and stunting our nation’s economic growth. This bipartisan bill would help address this problem by investing in child care providers so that they can help increase the number of available child care slots, giving parents access to more affordable child care services they need and creating jobs in their communities.”

“Iowa was already facing a child care crisis even before the pandemic, but those challenges for our families and communities have only become more severe since. One key area of improvement we should focus on is expanding opportunities for new child care facilities,” said Senator Ernst. “This bipartisan effort is a commonsense fix that takes existing programs and allows them to be used to help child care providers, including our non-profit centers, which will in turn help give our working parents greater access to quality and affordable care for their kids.”

“Over half of American families live in a child care desert, meaning they have no access to affordable child care,” said Congresswoman Lee. “This bill will make it easier for nonprofit child care providers to access small business loans, and set up shop in child care deserts throughout this country. Not only does the Small Business Child Care Investment Act expand child care access for families on a budget, it helps child care providers expand their businesses, hire more employees, and invest back into their local economies. Republicans and Democrats in Congress and throughout the country agree that we need to expand early childhood education and child care opportunities, and that’s why I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill alongside Senator Rosen, Senator Ernst, and Congressman Stauber.”

“With more parents choosing to dually work and raise a family, child care deserts are hurting families across the nation now more than ever. Those living in rural America are especially impacted by this problem,” said Congressman Stauber. “That’s why I am proud to help lead the Small Business Child Care Investment Act, legislation that will go a long way in helping to open new child care centers and assisting families that want to participate in the workforce.”

“This legislation is going to support kids and families by giving organizations grounded in our communities access to the tools that will allow them to have an even greater impact,” said Christy Gleason, Vice-President for Policy, Advocacy, and Campaigns at Save the Children Action Network. “Families have always known the critical role that providers play, and the pandemic has shown all of us how important that role is, as well as how susceptible the organizations that care for our children are to economic shocks at the times when families need them most. This piece of legislation couldn’t come at a better time, and Save the Children applauds Senators Rosen and Ernst, and Representatives Lee and Stauber.”

“Non-profit child care providers offer a critical service to families across the country, but there are many barriers preventing these providers from establishing or expanding care that has proven to positively impact young children’s development and future success in and out of the classroom,” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “It is important, now more than ever, that Congress finds innovative solutions that ensure all families who need it have access to high-quality child care options.  We are pleased to see Senators Rosen and Ernst and Representatives Lee and Stauber, all working together on a bipartisan, bicameral proposal that would expand access to affordable, quality child care across the country by allowing non-profit providers to access the same financial resources available to for-profit providers.”

“The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to highlight the fragile state of child care businesses. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that all child care providers are able to establish and operate a successful business, better serve children and families, and ultimately have a positive impact on the broader economy,” said Linda Smith, Director of the Early Childhood Initiative at Bipartisan Policy Center. “We commend Reps. Susie Lee and Pete Stauber and Sens. Joni Ernst and Jacky Rosen, for reintroducing this legislation and are pleased to see them working in a bipartisan manner to improve the child care market.”

“This legislation represents a critical investment in the resources needed to ensure a recovery for Nevada’s businesses and families,” said Dr. Tiffany Tyler-Garner, Executive Director of Children’s Advocacy Alliance. “By allowing the full array of childcare providers to access vital resources like SBA loans, this legislation places  childcare providers on equal footing while supporting a significant expansion of our capacity to provide affordable high quality childcare.”

“United Way of Southern Nevada is a long-standing partner of Nevada Ready! Pre-K, a program enabling hundreds of children from qualifying families to attend preschool at no cost. We have seen firsthand the positive impact that affordable high-quality care and education options have provided not only for our children, but entire families,” said Julie Houchins, Director of Early Education, United Way of Southern Nevada. “The Small Business Child Care Investment Act allows nonprofit childcare and early education providers to grow their capacity so they can meet the needs of working families in Nevada. We are very grateful for this bipartisan effort that will help local children, parents, and businesses alike.”

BACKGROUND: The bipartisan Small Business Child Care Investment Act is co-sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the Senate and co-sponsored by Reps. Cindy Axne (D-IA), Susan Wild (D-PA), John Larson (D-CT), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Van Taylor (R-TX), Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to a 2018 report from the Center for American Progress, half of all families lived in “child care deserts” – areas without sufficiently available child care.

According to a 2020 report from the Economic Policy Institute, child care is one of the biggest expenses families face and it is unaffordable for the average family in Nevada.

  • In Nevada, infant care costs $5,488 (92.7%) more per year than in-state tuition for four-year public college.
  • That makes Nevada one of 33 states and the District of Columbia where infant care is more expensive than college.

Currently, non-profit child care providers cannot access the same types of SBA loans as for-profit providers:

  • Non-profit providers can only apply for the SBA’s microloan program, which is capped at $50,000 and cannot be used to purchase real estate or for existing debts.
  • For-profit providers can access the larger and more flexible loan programs that range up to $5.5 million and can be used for real estate, construction, remodeling, and other expenses critical to maintaining and expanding high-quality child care operations.

The Small Business Child Care Investment Act would:

  • Ensure that qualified non-profit providers have equal access to SBA loans that allow providers to invest in and expand their operations, which creates local jobs and gives working families more options for affordable and quality child care;
  • Ensure non-profit providers can access the larger and more flexible loan programs that can be used for real estate, construction, remodeling, and other expenses critical to maintaining and expanding high-quality child care operations.

Senators Rosen and Ernst first introduced the bipartisan Small Business Child Care Investment Act in September 2019.  

 The bipartisan Small Business Child Care Investment Act is endorsed by Save the Children Action Network, First Five Years Fund, the Bipartisan Policy Center, Child Care Aware of America, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Military Family Association, First Focus Campaign for Children, National Head Start Association, the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities of Nevada, Children’s Advocacy Alliance of Nevada, United Way of Southern Nevada, and the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce.