Biden’s American Families Plan to Provide Universal Preschool and Expanded Access to Child Care

Picture of U.S. Capital building from the front

President Biden has announced a plan to invest in universal preschool and expanded access to child care at a joint session of Congress this week. The proposal would increase taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans to offset the cost over 15 years.

As reported by the First Five Years Fund, Biden’s proposal largely follows provisions in the Child Care for Working Families Act, which was introduced earlier this month by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Congressman Bobby Scott, D-Va. The bill would ensure that “no low- or middle-income family spends more than 7% of their income on child care, addresses longstanding challenges for early childhood educators, including low wages, and would invest in increasing the supply of quality child care in communities, while making other important quality improvements to existing programs.”

According to the administration’s fact sheet, among other things, the plan will

  • provide universal, quality preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds;
  • ensure that all employees in participating PreK programs and Head Start will earn at least $15 per hour, and those with comparable qualifications will receive compensation commensurate with kindergarten teachers;
  • leverage investments in teacher scholarships to support those who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree or another credential that supports their work as an educator, or to become an early childhood educator;
  • provide two years of free community college;
  • create a national paid family and medical leave program;
  • provide nutritional assistance to families who need it; and
  • extend tax cuts for families with children and workers.

The plan will head to the House to be drafted and negotiated and then will need special approval by the Senate parliamentarian to be passed under a budget reconciliation process. If approved, it will require a simple majority vote in the Senate.