Va. Sen. Kaine pushes for Build Back Better Agenda, says universal childcare is a critical piece to fixing economy and workforce


VIRGINIA (WDVM) — As the country recovers from the economic loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine says that a critical piece to fixing the workforce lies in expanding early education in the Build Back Better agenda and the American Rescue Plan.

In a press conference, Senator Kaine explained the Build Back Better agenda will provide universal free preschool for all 3 and 4-year-olds, allowing parents to return back to work. The legislation will also expand access to affordable high-quality child care by limiting child care costs for families to no more than 7% of their income and for families earning up to 250% of their state median income.

It also enables states to extend affordable childcare access to about 20 million children. In order to qualify for this childcare under the proposed legislation, parents must be working, seeking work, in training, or taking care of a serious health issue. The Biden administration aims for this legislation to be a long-term program and has allotted funding for six years.

Sen. Kaine explained that nearly two million people left the workforce during COVID and have not re-entered since schools and other entities have reopened. He says that the overarching problem in both cities and rural areas across the state is the absence of high-quality, affordable childcare.

“Schools might have been closed. Now they’re reopened. Daycare centers were closed, they reopened. They often reopened with fewer children because they want to have more social distancing,” Sen. Kaine said. “If you can’t find high-quality, affordable childcare, you may decide not to go back into the workforce.”

He also stated the guarantee of quality early education partnered with the Child Tax Credit implemented under the American Rescue Plan will take the stress off of working parents who will have the ability to re-enter the workforce. The Child Tax Credit automatically gave qualifying families a monthly tax credit of $250 for every child 6-17 years old and $300 for every child under 6 years old since July. Sen. Kaine explained that the child tax credit will cover about 1.6 million children, nearly 975,000 families, in Virginia alone.

“This helps create the happy and productive workforce if you help people keep more of their own money in their pocket,” Sen. Kaine explained. “By this Child Tax Credit, if you’re helping families with the cost of childcare, it tends to counter some people’s concerns about inflation which are very real but the Child Tax Credit helps with this.”

Sen. Kaine highlighted that in his opinion, the core of Build Back Better agenda is ensuring the American workforce is the best in the world to do the tasks at hand, but also to outcompete China and other countries going forward.

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