By passing the recent bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill, Congress helped 2020 – a year that has overwhelmed this country in more ways than one – to close on a more optimistic note. 2021 is the time for citizens and policymakers alike to reach across the aisle and rally together to recover from this devastating year, supporting the millions of struggling American families and businesses
Throughout 2021, SCAN is committed to continue working with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to ensure they provide crucial investment and resources to struggling families – particularly those going hungry – and businesses – particularly child care – to overcome the burdens brought on by COVID-19. Only then can we, as a nation, build back better.
Here are a few ways SCAN is encouraging Congress to act in the interest of kids and families.
Child Care: Crucial to Children AND the Economy
Since the onset of the pandemic, approximately one-third of child care providers have closed. Enrollment has gone done by 67% and provider costs have nearly doubled. This has resulted in 200,000 lost child care jobs – 20% of the entire child care industry – across the country.
If Congress does not save the child care industry through robust investment, Americans could lose an estimated 4.5 million child care slots forever.
Why does this matter?
Not only does a weak child care industry hinder a child’s development, but it also hinders the growth of our economy. To date, 13% of working parents have lost a job or have had to reduce their working hours due to a lack of child care. Without child care, parents and other caregivers cannot return to work.
Affordable and accessible high-quality child care is in the interest of every American – even those without children. Through significant, immediate investment, Congress can save this vital industry and get our economy on a sustainable path to recovery.
Child Hunger: Vital to Nourishing our Nation’s Future
COVID-19 has had devastating effects on child nutrition. Millions of families are unable to provide their children with sufficient food, especially due to widespread in-person school closures where many children receive their only meals of the day. Since March, food insecurity rates have tripled for families with children nationwide. This is particularly troubling given the fact that, in 2019, the country’s food insecurity rates were at a two-decade low.
While nonprofit organizations – such as Save the Children – have stepped in assist, it is not enough. Congress must take more action. It must continue to fund the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and modernize, streamline and invest in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
Based on the increased need nationwide, these programs are vital to ensuring American children and families have assistance they need to get through these trying times and succeed in the future. Not only does basic nutrition help children grow and develop, but it also helps them break the cycle of poverty and enables them to succeed in school.
On top of this, every SNAP dollar spent generates about $1.54 in economic activity. So, an investment in SNAP – and an investment in WIC – is an investment in local communities and economies, as well as children.
When children are able to grow up healthier and stronger, our economy and nation grow healthier and stronger, too – now and in the future.
2021: The Year for Bipartisan Action at Home and Along our Border
Now is the time to create positive change, and find solutions to the myriad of problems – like those discussed above – that have been affecting our country over the past year. But, while we focus on America’s recovery from COVID-19 domestically, we cannot forget the children suffering on our doorstep at the southern border.
Over the past four years, we’ve witnessed harmful federal government actions against children and families seeking asylum in the United States. Officials separated children from their families, resulting in over 660 children with missing parents. They even incarcerated toddlers in order to frighten and deter fellow asylum seekers.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has been used as a pretext to expand such harmful policies, and even close our border. Thousands of children have been expelled from our country without due process or regard for their health and safety.
Congress has the power to protect these children and rebuild our nation’s proud legacy as a safe haven for the persecuted by passing legislation that creates child-centric asylum and immigration systems.
2021 is the year to do so. No problem should be too great. Long-lasting, bipartisan solutions can – and must – be found.
I know that SCAN and its advocates will rise to these tasks. I look forward to working with all of you and our members of Congress to enact long-lasting change for millions of children and families. Together, we can create a better, stronger America for generations to come.