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Biden executive order pushes for child care expansion as polls show support for reform

Americans across the political spectrum support expanding child care, polling shows.

By Oliver Willis - April 19, 2023
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Joe Biden
President Joe Biden signs an executive order to increase access to child care and improve the work life of caregivers in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on April 18 instructing multiple federal agencies to implement policies to improve child care and care-related services.

The White House said the order was designed to improve care for families and to support family caregivers and care workers.

“The President is taking immediate action to make care more affordable for American families, support family caregivers, boost compensation and improve job quality for care workers, and expand care options,” the White House said in a statement.

Biden’s order includes directives sent to every Cabinet-level agency, including the departments of Defense, Justice, Energy, Health and Human Services, State and Labor. Agencies have been told to identify grant programs that can support child care and long-term care for people working on federal projects.

They have also been instructed to lower child care costs for families receiving support from child development block grants and to review federal child care subsidy policies. The Department of Defense, for instance, has been instructed to work toward improving child care affordability on military bases.

The administration said it intends for the executive actions to follow in the wake of the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act that Biden signed into law, which requires companies to provide child care to their employees if they receive $150 million or more in federal subsidies.

“This is a huge victory: The Biden administration has introduced a sweeping new set of executive actions to support care workers and expand childcare,” NARAL Pro-Choice America said in a tweet on April 18. “We celebrate this milestone alongside our partners.”

Rising child care costs continue to be an issue of national concern.

In a 2022 survey conducted by Care.com, 63% of parents said that child care costs had increased over the previous year for nannies, child care centers, and after-school babysitters, while the COVID-19 pandemic forced child care providers to close their doors.

Support for federal investment in child care expansion crosses party and ideological lines. A 2021 poll by Public Opinion Strategies of 1,000 voters in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin showed that 80% of respondents backed spending proposals that would help states to expand their child care systems.

Broken down by political identification, increased spending was supported by 57% of Republicans, 70% of independents, and 90% of Democrats.

When campaigning for the presidency in 2020, Biden proposed spending designed to lower child care costs and expand early childhood education. The 2021 American Rescue Plan that he signed into law included a child tax credit that was shown to have lowered the child poverty rate as well as subsidies that helped 200,000 child care providers stay open. The tax credit expired in January 2022 and was not reauthorized by Congress.

The Biden administration proposed spending more federal dollars to support child care services in the 2021 Build Back Better Act, which the Center for American Progress projected would make an additional 13 million children eligible for federal assistance.

The proposed law was opposed by Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and did not pass.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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