I’m standing with Maine child care providers today because Maine’s child care workforce is at a tipping point. At the same time, we have Maine parents who want to return to the workforce, but child care costs can make that choice very difficult as families balance their finances.
Parents know that in much of the state, you can get your child on a waiting list and then hope for the best. While 22 percent of Mainers live in a child care “desert,” where there are more than three children for each available slot, in rural communities it is even higher, the figure is 26 percent. Without a solution, rural families bear the brunt.
Now, no one state has been able to completely fix the child care crisis alone. The current situation for families and child care providers alike is unsustainable and it will only get worse without support from Congress.
That is why I want to talk about what the Build Back Better plan will do to address these serious issues facing Maine:
First, the plan would ease the burden of high costs on working families.
Second, it would make child care and elder care more affordable for working families,
Third, that investment will be made in the workers who have made too little for too long, hardworking people who are the backbone of Maine’s economy, who we can’t afford to lose.
If we want Maine to be one of the best places to live and work, we must recruit and retain this critical workforce so Maine families have the stability and support they need to raise families in this great state.
The Build Back Better Agenda is not just a band aid solution, across the nation this will give American families the opportunity to succeed in the 21st century by investing in this critical building block upon which other parts of our economy depend.
Here’s what Maine families would be able to expect.
The Build Back Better Agenda would:
- Extend the Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan to give a historic tax cut to 39 million households, benefiting more than 90% of families with children and helping to cut the child poverty rate in half.
- Increase access to quality, affordable child care in our communities
- Ensure that no working or middle-class family spends more than 7% of their income on child care, saving the average family $14,800 per year on child care expenses.
To be very clear, the Build Back Better plan won’t cost working and middle class families a penny– in fact, it will lower their taxes. We can pay for this plan without raising taxes on anyone making under $400,000 or 97% of small businesses by making the wealthiest and big corporations pay what they owe. Perhap Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg don’t have to worry about finding and paying for childcare, but Maine families face this crunch every single day.
If you heard the words ‘workforce shortage’ this year, you know that our economy is shifting and we must meet this moment. It is in our state’s best interest to give Maine’s workforce the tools they need to succeed. That includes making sure the workforce behind our workforce is well-supported. That’s what this plan would do.
I want to see Maine families have access to affordable, high quality child care in every corner of the state so they can contribute to our workforce and get the most out of their lives. I want to see our providers able to pay their employees a good wage that keeps them in rewarding jobs, educating and caring for our youngest Mainers. I see this as a critical piece of Maine’s economic health.
The Build Back Better plan will support Maine’s families and children today, and build a brighter future for tomorrow by increasing access to affordable, quality child care in our communities.
Please join me in urging Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act to ensure no Maine family is prevented from pursuing their American dream because they cannot afford child care.