High Level Overview of Build Back Better for Early Childhood Education
1/27/2022 | Mikhal Weiner
President Joe Biden has been in office for a year now, and he has, in that time, done some pretty admirable work. From passing a hefty investment in United States infrastructure to enacting a covid-relief package in order to buoy the U.S. buoy the economy, the Biden administration has kept itself busy trying to put out fires.
One thing that has the folks on Capitol Hill stymied, though, is the flagship Build Back Better (BBB) Framework. This bold step towards introducing more social and climate-focused legislation into the federal landscape has been, in a word, stuck for quite some time. Without going into too much detail on the endless back-and-forth of the BBB, the bottom line is that the votes are simply not there.
That said, it is far from being abandoned. In a lengthy speech summarizing his first year in office, President Biden seemed undeterred, although he did say that the bill will have to be broken up. “It’s clear that we will be able to get support for the $500+ billion for the energy and the environment,” he said, going on to state that he plans to “break the package up, get as much as we can now and come back and fight for the rest of it.” The president also claims that some of the Senators who won’t vote yes yet have expressed support for the portion of BBB that helps parents of young children and those working in early childhood education. But what does that help even look like? Let’s dive into some of the details.
Extending the Child Tax Credit
If you’re a parent or guardian of a minor and you and your partner make less than $150,000 a year (or less than $112,500 for a single parent), you may have noticed that you’re getting some extra money from the United States government—up to $300 a month per child. This is called the Child Tax Credit, and it came into effect during the pandemic as a form of relief for parents who were drowning in Zoom school and an absence of both childcare and gainful employment. The specific sum each family receives depends on their unique financial situation, but for many, this money has been just the safety net they needed. The Build Back Better Framework would continue this financial support, regardless of COVID surges.
Free Preschool for All
Besides getting extra income to spend as you see fit, the Biden Administration also wants to invest in free schooling for three and four-year-old children everywhere in America. This would include spending cash to reinforce public school programs, as well as Head Start programs, so that they are all of the same caliber. The thinking here is that no child should be without a quality education simply because their family has lesser financial means. According to the BBB proposal, children who attend high-quality early education programs are “more likely to graduate high school and college, and earn more as adults.”
Expanding Access to High-Quality Childcare Nationwide
What if your kids aren’t old enough for this great, free preschool program, though? Are you out of luck? The answer, fortunately, is no. The Build Back Better bill proposal aims to throw some money at this problem as well, with the goal of ensuring that American parents spend “no more than 7 percent of their income on childcare.” As a parent who spends far more than that today on my toddler’s income, this sounds pretty heavenly to me. When I think of how this influx of cash will help the educators who work so hard to make my child’s life rich and full of color, I’m even more excited.
While all of this sounds great, we still don’t know if Build Back Better will, indeed, get built. What’s more, it may take years for us to see the impact. Still, knowing that there are hardworking lawmakers out there trying to figure out a solution to some of the trials of parenthood gives me hope.
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