As the Senate prepares to return to Washington, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and other members of the HELP Committee have introduced the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act (CCCERA), a $430 billion bill to address the national child care and education crises and provide relief to students, families, schools, and educators across the country during this pandemic.

“This pandemic is not over and millions of American families are still struggling to make ends meet, have limited child care options and are worried about sending their kids to school in the fall,” said Senator Baldwin. “Congress must step up and face our nation’s child care and education crises head on in the next COVID-19 relief package. This legislation offers bold solutions to help give schools the tools they need to provide a quality education to students, whether in person or remotely, and also provides federal funding for child care providers so they can stay open and support the many families across this country who rely on child care services.”

The bill will provide a massive and much-needed investment to ensure that child care providers can remain open, and that K-12 schools and colleges can address a variety of issues including implementing public health measures, addressing learning loss among students, and providing emergency financial assistance to post-secondary students during the pandemic. The bill will also address the growing inequities in our education system by providing services for those disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus crisis – including students of color, students from low-income families, students experiencing homelessness, English learners, students with disabilities, and more. Additionally, the bill will reverse Secretary Betty DeVos’ cruel attempts to prevent certain college students from receiving relief, stop her from giving colleges special favors when they have not demonstrated need, stop her from using funds meant for public schools to support her school privatization agenda, and establish safeguards to ensure that she implements the bill with the equity that it requires.

In order to address the child care and education crises, the bill provides:

> $50 billion for a Child Care Stabilization Fund, to ensure that child care providers can stay open, educators can continue getting paid, and working families get tuition relief.

> $1.5 billion to address and prevent child abuse and neglect, to support the child welfare workforce and to fund community-based prevention programs that strengthen families.

> $345 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund, including: $175 billion for K-12 schools, to help schools address learning loss, implement public health protocols, and provide quality education to all students – whether they open in-person, remotely, or a hybrid of both.

> $132 billion for higher education, to help colleges and universities, especially our nation’s HBCUs, tribal colleges, and MSIs, deliver a quality education for their students, implement public health protocols, and provide emergency financial aid to students for expenses like food, housing, child care, and technology.

> $33 billion for a Governor’s Fund, to allow governors to allocate funds for needed educational services to areas of their states hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

> Protection for state and local education budgets, by enacting a “maintenance of effort” requirement establishing that states will not cut their own education spending for three years—saving education jobs and ensuring that cuts do not impact students and families.

> $12.9 billion to provide services to communities disproportionately impacted by the crisis, including students from low-income families, migrant children, students in juvenile justice facilities, students experiencing homelessness, and English learners;

$12 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), ensuring students with disabilities get the services and support they need to continue learning;

$4 billion for the E-Rate Program to close the “homework gap,” and provide technology and internet access to students in need;

$450 million to expand the capacity of federal TRIO programs to serve more low-income, first-generation students;

Flexibility to HBCUs with respect to their endowments and capital financing loans;

$4 billion for career, technical, adult education, and training to help students gain the education and skills they need to join the workforce.

This bill also includes safeguards that will:

Prevent Secretary DeVos from restricting student access to emergency financial aid, ensuring that all eligible students can access the aid, including DACA recipients and undocumented students in need of financial assistance.

Prevent Secretary DeVos from diverting funds away from public schools to provide services to wealthier private school students.

Prevent Secretary DeVos from using funds for “micro-grants” that advance her school privatization agenda.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, child care providers, K-12 schools, and institutions of higher education face unprecedented challenges and uncertainty as they strive to serve their children and students. Challenges in implementing public health protocols and ensuring the safety of all children and students have been compounded as the economic impact of the crisis has caused unprecedented State and local budget shortfalls. Without major help from the federal government, the United States risks losing 4.5 million child care slots, losing 1.9 million education jobs, exacerbating students’ learning loss, causing more higher education students to drop out due to economic and academic struggles, and widening disparities that disproportionately harm students of color, specifically Black students.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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