Future of childcare funding uncertain as Congress considers Biden administration request

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A lapse in federal funding has the childcare industry in freefall according to advocates. Now the Biden administration is asking Congress to pass $16 billion in funding to help childcare providers keep their staff paid and their doors open.

Hopkins House is a Virginia child care center that’s been educating young kids for decades. But the president of Hopkins House, J. Glenn Hopkins, says right now his industry is in trouble.

“The childcare industry right now is in freefall. And unless something happens we’re going to crash,” Hopkins said.

In October, billions of dollars in federal funding for childcare expired. That forced Hopkins House to raise their tuition.

Mom Kayla Obst says child care is already a major expense for her family. If prices increase much further, she fears they could push her out of her job.

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“To think I’d have to quit working to keep my daughter at home, because we can’t afford childcare is terrifying,” Obst said.

As part of a larger budget request, the Biden administration is pushing for Congress to pass $16 billion in child care subsidies.

Advocates say it’s a worthwhile cost to make sure quality care is affordable and accessible.

“To make sure the resources are available to prepare our kids for the future, to prepare our kids to be competitive globally,” Hopkins said.

Senator Tim Kaine says Democrats are trying to rally support for the funding.

“We’re going to do all we can to get that passed,” Kaine said.

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But Senator Josh Hawley prefers a different policy.

“I think we ought to give parents refundable tax credits,” Hawley said.

With a divided Congress, the future of child care funding is uncertain.

Places like Hopkins House are counting on the government to invest.

“Every child, regardless of where they come from deserves to have the best in childcare,” Hopkins said.

He argues the decision will impact everyone.

“Whether you have children or not, childcare is critical to this economy,” Hopkins said.

They have a message for lawmakers weighing whether to pass the funding.

“It’s worth it,” Obst said.

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