Rep. Michelle Steel (R-California) introduced a bill on June 14 that could help businesses invest in child care programs to entice parents to return to work.
If passed, the legislation provides funding to businesses to open a childcare program, expand a current one or form a partnership with external providers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, approximately 2.9 million parents left the workforce between January 2020 and January 2021. Returning to work was difficult for many parents due to a lack of classroom training, a shortage of available childcare facilities and the rising cost of childcare.
The funding for the bill comes from the U.S. Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which went into effect in March. The law provides $ 24 billion for the formation of a state stabilization fund, which by law is required to notify the government by December if they cannot oblige at least 50 percent of the funds.
If the funds remain unrestricted, the bill will allow states to re-use the money to increase the amount of childcare for businesses.
Steel said she feels the ARPA’s unfettered funds will be put to good use if they can help parents return to work and help the workforce fill millions of jobs.
‘California eventually opened, but [employees] can not go back to work because their children are home, ”Steel told The Epoch Times. ‘So we want to help these parents so they can go back to work, but they need someone else to look after their babies. And especially those businesses, if they want to help these parents support childcare, it’s going to be a [great] way to use this money.
“The lack of child care in Orange County is causing $ 4.3 billion in loss of productivity to wages,” Steel added.
The bill, introduced by Steel in conjunction with Representative David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Would encourage the long-term stability of a business’s childcare system by requiring businesses to demonstrate plans to maintain the system after the subsidy period of approx. nine. months are over.
If businesses continue to show that they are doing a good job with childcare, the contract could be extended, Steel said.
‘It’s really good because the [U.S. Department of Labor] has just announced that there are 9.3 million jobs and that there are not enough people, so I think it will be useful not only for workers but especially for small businesses. [With all the parents out of work], we have to do something about it, and that’s why we do it. ”
Steel said she expects dual support on the issue and will soon speak to Democratic colleagues who may consider signing the proposal.
She said she was really going to strive to make the bill pass, citing its importance to both families and businesses.
“I get the former support from two parties because we have already introduced the bill as it is, so I am going to get more co-sponsors,” she said. ‘The second thing is with jurisdiction, this jurisdiction is under the Education and Labor Committee of which I am a member. So it will come back to us and then we can go through it and notice it, and we are going to go through the regular process, and then it goes to the [House] floor. From now on I do not know exactly when it will come, but I will really print it. ”