Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer and Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) on Friday introduced the Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act of 2020 to ensure childcare providers receive information and resources needed to safely operate through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The lack of affordable and quality childcare has been a crisis facing our communities for years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse," Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer said. "This bipartisan, common-sense bill will help make sure providers can safely care for the children of essential workers who do not have the option of working from home, and could make an immediate positive impact in our communities."
"We must keep working toward solving the childcare crisis in the short and long term," Finkenauer said. "I'm thankful to have the opportunity to work with Congressman Guthrie on the Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act of 2020."
Under this bill, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would provide states with educational material and technical assistance related to:
COVID-19 prevention in childcare facilities.
Professional development for childcare providers on health and safety.
How to acquire and use personal protective equipment.
How to modify operations to prevent COVID-19 transmission, including optimal staff-to-child ratios.
In addition to technical assistance, the legislation would also allow HHS to make grants to states so they can then provide outreach, guidance, and technical support to childcare providers. The bill would also require HHS to recommend how to ensure the safe provision and adequate supply of childcare during COVID-19.
"As our nation continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, we must ensure that child care providers have the necessary resources to reopen or remain open and keep children safe while allowing parents to return to work," Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) said.. "COVID-19 safety precautions have been a major financial burden to childcare providers, which have already suffered significant financial losses due to closures during the pandemic. I was proud to join Rep. Finkenauer in introducing the Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act to support states' efforts to provide critical guidance, educational materials, and technical assistance to childcare providers."
The Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act of 2020 is supported by the Black Hawk Child Care Coalition, the Child and Family Policy Center, Exceptional Persons, Inc. (Child Care Resource and Referral of NE Iowa host agency), the First Five Years Fund, Iowa Citizen Action Network, and the Save the Children Action Network.
Support for the Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act of 2020:
"Childcare providers truly are the workforce behind the workforce in our nation and that is particularly apparent with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act recognizes childcare as essential work. It is imperative that the HHS works with providers to assist them by educating and providing technical assistance on COVID-19 prevention, health and safety, use of PPE and more. The implementation of this Act would guarantee that childcare providers have the resources they desperately need to continue operating in a safe manner. Iowa Citizen Action Network supports Representative Finkenauer's commitment to our children, providers, workers and indeed our economy with this Act."
---- Sue Dinsdale, Executive Director, Iowa Citizen Action Network
"Childcare is crucial to a well-functioning economy, allowing parents to go to work knowing their child is being cared for in a safe environment. That's why Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) applauds Congresswoman Finkenauer for introducing the Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act, which would ensure childcare providers have the information and resources they need to open -- and stay open -- safely during this pandemic. Quality childcare is an issue Iowans care deeply about, and Congresswoman Finkenauer has once again made sure their voices are heard in Congress."
---- E.J. Wallace, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) Iowa State Manager
"This bill will provide critical education and training to keep our childcare workers and children safe in these unprecedented times."
---- Dan Levi, Co-Founder of Black Hawk Child Care Coalition
"The Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act ensures practical and everyday support for our child care communities. This will provide consistent and safe resources for our front line childcare workers."
---- Mary Janssen, Children and Family Services Director, Exceptional Persons Inc.
The Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act of 2020 is the 20th bipartisan bill Congresswoman Finkenauer has introduced since entering office in 2019.
Finkenauer has been a strong advocate for affordable and quality childcare options and hardworking Iowa families. She has led numerous efforts to address the crisis and ensure Iowans' voices are being heard in Congress.
Some of Finkenauer's work includes:
Helping pass TheChild Care Is Essential Act and the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act to improve access to affordable and quality childcare.
Introducing the bipartisan Affordable Child Care for Economic Strategies and Success (ACCESS) Act to allow federal economic development grants to be used for improving the accessibility of affordable, quality of childcare.
Introducing the bipartisan COACH Act to create an easy-to-access federal resource guide to help childcare providers start and grow their small businesses.
Introducing the Child Care is Essential Act to improve childcare options for Iowans and ensure providers have the resources to weather the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Leading a hearing on the importance of improving access to affordable and quality childcare. Video of the hearing is available here.
Joining several members of the Small Business Committee in introducing the bipartisan Small Business Child Care Investment Act.
Introducing HR 3986, the Child Care Protection Improvement Act of 2019, to improve the completion of background checks for childcare providers who receive funding through the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and supported the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act, which addresses the shortage of affordable, quality childcare through competitive grants to states.