ZERO TO THREE Welcomes Introduction of American Families Plan
Organization urges White House to go as big and bold as possible on behalf of babies and toddlers
Today, the White House officially unveiled the American Families Plan, a package that would lift up the infrastructure supporting babies, toddlers, and their families. ZERO TO THREE, the country’s leading early childhood development nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, welcomed the proposal as a sound and needed investment in our country’s future, while urging Congress and the administration to go as big and bold as possible on behalf of the youngest among us.
ZERO TO THREE Chief Policy Officer Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor stated:
“President Biden has made it clear – the days of our nation failing to support and invest in the future of our babies and toddlers are over. Families have faced severe challenges for years, long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Black and Brown babies and families with low income struggle even more, facing systemic inequities that have limited their potential for years. The pandemic only made these challenges worse, exposing longstanding barriers and threadbare systems of support. We need to take action now, and the American Families Plan shows that the White House has answered that call.
“This plan provides Congress with a blueprint to help families of young children immediately, including funding to build a comprehensive child care system, paid family and medical leave, and an expansion of the Child Tax Credit. The President’s proposal is simply unprecedented in the sweep of its policies, and we gladly welcome it. But we can and must do more.
“We encourage the White House and Congress to go further and to be even bolder on behalf of our babies and families. Let’s stop separating child care from Pre-K, recognizing that care is education and education is care by ensuring an integrated birth to 5 system. Let’s fund and implement a permanent and even stronger paid family and medical leave policy. And perhaps most importantly, let’s make the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent so that we can address child poverty in our country once and for all.
“Now is the time to go big for our babies. Because when we do, we build a strong America. We must seize this opportunity to lift up each and every child in our country and provide all of them with the best possible chance to succeed. Let’s pass the strongest American Families Plan possible, so that we can give every baby and toddler a strong start in life.”
As the second leg of the White House’s proposed investment in infrastructure, the American Families Plan puts families of young children and the care economy as a whole at the center of the economic discussion as we begin to move out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal would:
- Ensure that families with low and middle incomes spend no more than seven percent of their income on child care, which will be guaranteed to be accessible and high-quality;
- Develop a national, comprehensive paid family and medical leave program that guarantees 12 weeks of leave by year 10;
- Extend the Child Tax Credit increases in the American Rescue Plan through 2025 while making the credit permanently refundable, and make the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit permanent; and
- Provide early childhood educators with job-embedded coaching, professional development, and commiserate wages, including at least $15 per hour for employees in participating pre-K and Head Start programs.
ZERO TO THREE’s recently released State of Babies Yearbook: 2021 makes clear that bold action is desperately needed on behalf of infants and toddlers across the nation. The report reveals that:
- 40.3 percent of babies nationwide live in poverty or low income, placing the U.S. 33rd for child poverty among 38 other nations. This includes nearly 19% of the nation’s 11.5 million babies who were living in outright poverty.
- When a family is living with low income, they’re less likely to obtain preventative care or developmental screening for their babies; more likely to live in crowded housing, unsafe neighborhoods, or move frequently; and their children are more likely to have multiple adverse early experiences.
- Infant care is too expensive for many families, exceeding the cost of college tuition in more than half of states. Only 16 states allow child care subsidies for families with incomes over 200% of the federal poverty level, and just 4 percent of low- and moderate-income families that could use help with paying for child care receive a subsidy.
- Only 11 percent of those income-eligible infants and toddlers have access to Early Head Start, where families can get comprehensive child development and family support services. The proportion served varies from 3% to 23% across states.
On May 18th, families from every state in the nation and the District of Columbia will meet with their members of Congress as part of Strolling Thunder, an annual event bringing thousands of advocates together to call on Congress to Think Babies and Act and boldly invest in our babies and our future. This year’s event will be held virtually, with an online rally held on May 17th. Parent advocates will share their stories and call on their members of Congress to support a number of policies that benefit babies and families, including important pieces of the American Families Plan. To learn more, visit thinkbabies.org/strollingthunder.
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