There is so much in the news today screaming out for our attention that it’s easy to overlook a program known as the Build Back Better Plan originally introduced by President Joe Biden as the “American Families Plan.” While this plan may seem less dramatic than other news stories it has important implications for the long-term health of our country and its families, parents and children.
In the News
In the U.S., many of our most vulnerable depend on WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. While WIC is essential to those who use it, only about half of those eligible for it benefit because it requires in-person visits to sign-up locations, doesn’t allow for online shopping or delivery, and ends before many children start kindergarten and become eligible for school meal programs.
In the United States, grandparents care for one in four children under the age of five. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shuttered — perhaps permanently — countless child care centers, we know this number has grown. Many parents are left with no other option than to ask their own parents for help.
As Colorado and the rest of the country are building back the economy, we must remind policymakers that early learning and care is vital to our long-term recovery. President Biden understands this, and that’s why his Build Back Better Plan includes a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s childcare and early education system. We need to rally around this plan to ensure Congress gets on board.
In June, Vice President Kamala Harris addressed a crowd of Guatemalans and told them “do not come” to the U.S. I was disappointed, but not surprised. Too many of our elected officials — Republican and Democrat alike — have a fundamental misunderstanding about immigration: that immigrants who come here undocumented are making an easy choice. For my family, and so many others, there was no choice, and it certainly wasn’t easy. If we hadn’t fled our native countries, we’d be dead.
As a longtime teacher in Durango and member of the Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children, I work to ensure young kids in our community and across Colorado have the support they need.
After a difficult year, Durango’s early childhood providers are still struggling to maintain care for the working families in our area. We need Congress to continue to prioritize early learning and care as part of our nation’s long-term recovery.
In storefronts, restaurants and businesses throughout our community, the “Help Wanted” signs have lingered for months. Some organizations have cut back on hours of operation, some have increased starting wages or offered incentives to staff taking on extra hours, and some have even posted reminders to their clientele to be kind to their servers as fewer staff try their best to meet the demand.
Gov. Bill Lee on Wednesday joined members of the state legislature for a ceremonial signing of a bill that, after months of negotiations, will force the state to spend down much of its more than $700 million reserve of unused federal grants intended to help poor working families.
One year after COVID-19 took hold in the U.S., we see light on the horizon, and it looks like things could finally be aligning for Tennessee’s most vulnerable families.