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Higgins announces passage of legislation aimed at increasing access to affordable, quality child care

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Fri, Nov 20th 2020 05:00 pm

Child Care is Economic Development Act approved by House

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced the passage of H.R. 8326, the Child Care is Economic Development Act of 2020 (CED) Act. The bipartisan bill would ask communities creating their comprehensive economic development strategies to include plans that would help increase affordable, quality child care in the region. Higgins’ team said, “A lack of affordable, quality child care undermines one's ability to participate in the workforce, for women in particular.”

“The interconnected nature of the economy and child care is in the spotlight during the pandemic. This bill builds in strategies to access child care as a component of federally supported regional economic development planning,” Higgins said.

The Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 established the Economic Development Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce to provide grants to economically distressed communities for the purpose of supporting employment, industrial and commercial growth. Communities receiving these grants are required to submit comprehensive economic development strategies in order to outline how they plan to use the federal funding for community development. This bill amends that act to ensure communities include planning that would assist with increasing child care accessibility in the region.

As recipients both Erie County and Niagara County have been required to submit strategies every five years, with Erie’s most recent being 2016, and Niagara’s most recent being 2020.

In July, Higgins announced passage of H.R. 7027, the Child Care is Essential Act, which provided $50 billion in appropriations for the Child Care Stabilization Fund to award grants to child care providers during and after the coronavirus public health emergency, as well as passage of H.R. 7327, the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, which provided $850 million to states to fill in gaps in child care availability for essential workers.

Higgins also approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which directed federal funding to local communities to assist with coronavirus costs, of which $25 million in Erie County was dedicated toward child care programs including 72 virtual learning centers, 46 of which are currently in the City of Buffalo. Higgins is currently pushing for the deadline for the use of this funding to be extended to keep the virtual learning centers open in 2021.

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