PASSED BY THE HOUSE: Rep. Wild Bipartisan Bill to Expand Access to Child Care Services
WASHINGTON – Today, the House passed H.R. 8162, U.S. Representative Susan Wild’s (PA-07) bipartisan bill, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020, to help expand access to child care services through the remainder of the COVID-19 emergency. Introduced by Wild at the beginning of this month, her legislation is intended to aid parents’ return to the workforce and ensure children can continue their learning in an academically supportive environment.
As the school year in Pennsylvania begins, Wild has made it a priority to talk with parents, educators, students, administrators, and health professionals about the challenges and differences of this school year. Last week, Wild hosted a conversation with parents in her community to discuss their choices of remote, hybrid, or in-person learning models for their children this semester, and visited Liberty Bell Elementary School in her community which is employing a hybrid instruction model.
“I’ve heard from hundreds of parents across my community who are concerned about how they will tackle this school year – how they find affordable child care, how they make sure their children don’t fall academically behind, and how they will get back to work,” Wild said. “Right now, they need options and flexibility – and without it, our students, our workers, and our economy will all pay the price. I’m proud to see this bill pass the House today with such strong bipartisan support and create those flexible, affordable child care options to both develop safe, structured learning environments for our students to succeed and support parents as they can get back to work.”
As a result of the health challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many school districts will provide academic instruction through remote or hybrid learning models this school year. Estimates suggest that this Fall, nearly 24 million workers with children between the ages of 6 and 14 will have no at-home child care option.
Wild’s bill expresses a sense of Congress that the flexibility provided to states through the Department of Education's recent waiver for 21st Century Community Learning Centers – the only federally funded initiative dedicated to supporting afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs – allows subgrantees to provide virtual programming and school-aged child care during the workday to help meet the needs of students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. These learning centers, which typically operate out of Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, schools, and other community centers, have existing, trusted partnerships with the school districts they serve. The flexibility expressed in my legislation will help school districts leverage these partnerships to create options for families and cultivate environments in which K-12 students could receive additional academic support, school-aged children could receive safe care during the day, and working parents would be able to return to and stay in the workforce.
In addition to her bill, Wild led 47 of her colleagues in a bipartisan letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to bolster this effort with short-term flexibility and robust funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
Wild’s legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Don Young (R-AK), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Tom Reed (R-NY), and Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), and is endorsed by the Afterschool Alliance, After-School All-Stars, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Classroom, Inc., National Association of Elementary School Principals, Forum for Youth Investment, and National AfterSchool Association.
Text of Wild’s letter is available HERE.
One-pager on Wild’s bill is available HERE.
Text of Wild’s bill is available HERE.