In a speech to a joint session of Congress, President Biden unveiled the “The American Families Plan,” the third part of the president’s push to power a post-pandemic recovery. Along with the $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus and a proposal for an infrastructure plan that would earmark $2.3 trillion to upgrade roads, bridges, railroads, and the country’s aging power grid, the American Families Plan seeks to fund a wide range of initiatives to address deep-lying problems on the job market that the pandemic exposed.
As we have reported already, the fiscal stimulus included Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s enhancement of the Child Tax Credit. The American Families Plan would extend this credit until 2025, although we are still hoping that the credit is made permanent as it will bolster job access and address long-term economic disparities born disproportionately by working mothers.
In addition to the Child Tax Credit extension, The American Families Plan also carves out roughly $650 billion for several areas that have great bearing on our practice at Berke-Weiss Law. One area is universal pre-K, an institution that the US lags woefully behind other OECD nations. Nationally, enrollment tops out at 60% compared to England or France, where enrollment is near universal. Pre-K expansion would receive $200 billion.
The other two are paid family medical leave and funding child care expenses, which would both see roughly $225 billion in funding under the plan. All of these are issues close to us and ones that we’ve been blogging about long before the pandemic. But what the pandemic did do is bring these issues to the fore as working parents have been some of the hardest hit by stay-at-home orders, massive layoffs, and being considered an essential worker.
It is also important to argue forcefully that all these issues are not actually separate. Rather they are interconnected and deserving of a concerted effort to improve. Paid Family Leave and increased investments in child care, including universal pre-K may help keep women in the workforce, or allow some of the more than 2 million women who left the workforce in 2020 to return.