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Full screen 1/52 SLIDES © ChiccoDodiFC // Shutterstock How COVID-19 has endangered the child care industry

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, child care for an infant cost the average American family more than $11,000 each year, according to Child Care Aware of America's 2019 report.

Those costs ran around $10,000 for a toddler and more than $9,000 for 4-year-olds. By early summer, more than half of parents in a survey reported concern over rising child care costs amid the pandemic.

Their fear is warranted: The Center for American Progress estimated in late April that the pandemic could crater access for American families by reducing child care slots by close to 4.5 million. Meanwhile, working families with kids younger than 5 routinely pay roughly 10% of their household income on child care—40% more than the 7% of income defined as affordable for child care by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, These families increasingly have less access to child care and pay a higher proportion of income on the service, which in many cases is the only reason both parents are able to continue working. 

Stacker consulted reports from the Center for American Progress (CAP) to see in raw numbers how COVID-19 has impacted and endangered the child care industry in the United States. In this story, we drew from two CAP reports: the first, published in April 2020, estimates the child care capacity in every state that is at risk of disappearing if governments do not adequately support child care providers. This report’s estimates are based on state-by-state NAEYC survey response data and CAP child care deserts data. Though these data are from April, a CAP representative expressed to Stacker that they still accurately reflect the current challenges facing child care providers. The second report, published in September 2020, estimates the expenses that families currently face for placing children in child care centers or family-based (in-home) care. This report also includes estimates for the overall operating costs of the child care industry in each state.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that Congress passed in March 2020 funneled $3.5 billion to states via the Child Care and Development Block Grant to support access to child care. With a rising need for these services and gap in sufficient resources for workers, who make on average $11 an hour, and families, who have struggled to make ends meet amid skyrocketing unemployment rates and business closure.

The U.S. House of Representatives in July passed on a bipartisan vote the Child Care Is Essential Act. The legislation would infuse $50 billion into the industry but has yet to be taken up by the Senate.

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Deroy Murdock: Senate should pass 'Ginsburg Amendment,' save the 9 seat Supreme Court

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Focus on health care, not court expansion

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wants voters to see Republicans’ push for a speedy Supreme Court confirmation as an end-run of Congress and the 2010 health care law.

In remarks on Sunday, the former vice president sidestepped any talk of expanding the court to counter conservative gains should he defeat President Donald Trump in November and Democrats regain a Senate majority. Biden called that scenario a distraction from the practical effects that Trump’s nominee, conservative federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett, could have if she succeeds the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“They see an opportunity to overturn the Affordable Care Act on their way out the door,” Biden said, speaking near his Delaware home. “The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court right now, as I speak, to eliminate the entire Affordable Care Act.”

Biden repeated his calls that the Senate delay confirmation proceedings until after the Nov. 3 election, moving ahead then if Trump wins another term or awaiting a nomination from Biden if the Democrat prevails.

The focus on health care reflects the Democrats’ larger strategy in recent days. They tacitly concede Republicans are likely to confirm Barrett, giving conservatives a 6-3 court majority. So, rather than fight a losing battle, as they did with Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 confirmation, Democrats want to raise the pressure on Republicans by focusing on how a conservative supermajority of justices might affect Americans’ everyday lives.

Justices are scheduled on Nov. 10, a week after Election Day, to hear another challenge of the 2010 health care law. Biden noted the court has twice upheld the law, a signature achievement of President Barack Obama’s and Biden’s White House tenure. But those were divided rulings, with Ginsburg in the narrowest of majorities.

“President Trump could claim all he wants that he is going to protect people with pre-existing conditions. But the fact is he’s already fighting to take those protections away,” Biden said, later reading from the administration’s brief before the court.

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He listed several common conditions, including heart damage and other effects from the coronavirus that is still spreading, that could keep millions of Americans from qualifying for coverage if the law is gutted completely.

On Barrett, Trump on Sunday told reporters that it’s going to be hard for Democrats “to dispute her qualifications or anything about her.”

Like Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to criticize Barrett directly earlier Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Later in the day, Biden’s only direct critique of Trump’s nominee referred back to her writings as a University of Notre Dame professor, before she ascended to the federal bench in 2017.

“Prior to going on the bench, she publicly criticized Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion upholding the law,” Biden noted.

Barrett questioned John Roberts’ reasoning that Congress’ constitutional power to tax gave it authority to pass most of the law’s provisions, especially the IRS penalty on individuals who didn’t buy health insurance. Conservatives insist the legislation was not reasonably a taxation bill. Congress has since, while under Republican control, scrapped the tax penalty, hoping to undercut Roberts’ hook that upheld much of the statute.

Some progressives want Biden to threaten Republicans with scrapping the Senate filibuster altogether and expanding the Supreme Court with a slate of liberal appointees. Republicans have tried to use the issue in competitive Senate races and against Biden. He declined Sunday to take the bait on court expansion.

“What I’m not going to do is play the Trump game, which is a good game he plays to take your eye off the issue before us,” Biden said. “I am focused on making sure the American people understand that they are being cut out of this process … in order to take away the ACA and your healthcare in the midst of a pandemic.”


Barrow reported from Atlanta. Associated Press Writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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