Help for Families May Be On The Way
President Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) plan comprises exciting historical investments in children and families. These investments are critical to the well-being of our nation as we continue to endure the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic going into the year 2022. The Early Childhood funding packages provided in the BBB framework highlight the essential role quality early childhood systems play in restoring a robust workforce and vibrant economy in the United States.
The legislation provides for Child Care Assistance as well as Universal Pre-K. The Child Care Assistance aims to address child care deserts, scarcity of resources, family affordability, and workforce compensation and development challenges. The program is inclusive of all family-based programs, center-based programs, family-friend-neighbor (FFN) providers, as well as faith-based and local schools. Typical families are expected to save $100 a week or more on child care expenses. Additionally, states are required to use payment rates that cover the entire cost of high-quality child care in their communities, market rates will no longer be a factor. Universal Pre-K will be administered on the federal level by the Department of Health and Human Services. At the state level, each Governor will have the option to opt into the program and then determine which state agency the funding will funnel through. Universal Pre-K will be available to a string of eligible providers including but not limited to Head Start agencies, family providers, FFN programs, faith-based programs, and licensed programs. It is intended that this program will be inclusive of all of the programs families rely on at the local level. Children who are 3 and 4 years old become eligible for the Universal Pre-K program based on the school-age enrollment date determined by the Local Education Agency (LEA). Additionally, this bill requires that states create data systems, administer statewide needs assessment, and provide a livable wage for providers.
The new investments the BBB plan provides for Early Childhood pave the path for Arizona children to thrive in the upcoming years. It provides funding that fills significant gaps in our early childhood systems that will translate to stronger Arizona communities. We urge Governor Doug Ducey to support Arizona’s children, families, workforce, and economy by opting into these vital programs.