ZERO TO THREE Lauds House Passage of Build Back Better Act
Organization urges Senate to pass big, bold, baby-centered budget without changes or delay
This morning, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act, a once-in-a-generation investment in families and young children nationwide. The bill, with programs totaling $1.75 trillion, would establish long-needed comprehensive family policy that would help millions of babies reach their full potential. ZERO TO THREE, the country’s leading early childhood development nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, hailed the act as a strong step toward the bold baby agenda families in America need to thrive.
ZERO TO THREE Executive Director Matthew Melmed stated:
“Our babies, families, and communities need infrastructure that supports their health and well-being. Every day, millions of parents are forced to make impossible decisions about caring for and supporting their babies. Today, Congress took a large step toward establishing the supports parents and caregivers need to help their children thrive, now and into the future.
“Today, we have within reach the opportunity to finally build the quality child care system that our babies and toddlers need to support their early development. Parents who have long struggled to afford care will have access to affordable options, and providers will receive the wages their critical work deserves. The expanded Child Tax Credit – our single greatest tool against child poverty – will continue, changing the life trajectory of millions of young children. After decades of leaving families of color behind, these policies will establish equitable supports to ensure all children have what they need to grow up healthy, both physically and emotionally.
“After much debate, paid family and medical leave, which helps parents support foundational development in their babies, has been added back into this bill. We urge the Senate to pass this landmark legislation as is, establishing the big, bold baby agenda that we – alongside parents and partners across the country - have advocated for. Dedicated time with newborns and family members is crucial for caregivers across the country. Paid leave is a critical piece of this legislation and leaving it out of the final bill would undermine babies’ development from their earliest moments.
“If we respond to families’ needs today, we can build a strong foundation for generations to come. We have the opportunity to get this right. We urge the Senate to pass this bill, with each of these supports included. Our babies are counting on you.”
The Build Back Better Act would provide historic investments in the care infrastructure that supports infants, toddlers, and their families. Policies specific to families of young children in the legislation passed by the House, includes:
- Child Care: Establishes birth through five child care and early learning entitlement program with a robustly funded three-year ramp up to expand subsidies, raise wages, and build the supply and quality of available programs before the entitlement for the vast majority of families with young children begins on October 1, 2024. Reimbursement rates would support quality programs and increased compensation for providers to at least a living wage, with parity with similarly credentialed elementary educators. Authorized for 6 years.
- Paid Family and Medical Leave: Permanently authorizes 4 weeks of comprehensive paid family and medical leave, starting 2024, with a progressive wage replacement structure and an expanded family definition.
- Child Tax Credit: Extends the enhanced Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan Act through FY22, and permanently extends refund of full credit to families with low or no earnings.
More information about the legislation can be found in ZERO TO THREE’s recent resource, “What’s in Build Back Better for Babies?”
ZERO TO THREE’s 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 families in poverty or with low income, placing the U.S. 33rd for child poverty among 38 other nations. This includes nearly 19 percent 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 percent across states.
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