by Paula Drew, Co-Director, WEESSN

The child care sector has been named in every pandemic relief bill proposed to congress since the spring. The importance of this work has never been more clear. And while we must keep advocating for the long-term Child Care is Essential Act, we celebrate the news that help is coming. The House and Senate have passed a new $892 billion COVID Relief Package and the President signed the bill this past SundayWhile in its entirety, the bill is 5,593 pages long and will take time to fully understand, there are some highlights that will directly benefit early care and education professionals in Wisconsin. What’s more, the bill not only calls for pandemic relief, it also increases spending on federal programs impacting our field for 2021. 

Pandemic Relief Spending: 

  • $600 per person for individuals earning $75,000 per year and married couples who earn up to $150,000, with $600 more for each dependent under 18 living in the same household. 
  • $10 billion in Emergency funds sent to states through CCDBG. CLASP estimates that Wisconsin will receive $147,411,475. For context, the CARES Act brought $51,639,992 to Wisconsin through CCDBG this spring1. 
  • $285 billion for a renewed Paycheck Protection Program with an increased focus on very small businesses, as well as women- and minority-owned businesses. First-time applicants can apply, and there will likely be additional guidance for second-time applicants, some of whom may also be eligible2 
  • $20 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program. 
  • $250 million for Head Start to assist with operating expenses during the pandemic. 
  • $13 billion to increase SNAP benefits by 15% and provide additional funding for food banks and senior nutrition programs, and to ensure college students have access to SNAP. 
  • $82 billion for K-12 Education.  
  • $43.6 billion for Higher Education3. 
  • $300 per week in supplement to state UI compensation and an 11-week extension of the unemployment insurance (UI) compensation benefits first provided in the CARES Act4 

2021 Early Care and Education Funding Increases for 2021 

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) increased by $85,000,000.
  • Head Start and Early Head Start increased by $135,000,000.  
  • IDEA Part B Preschool Grants increased by $3,500,000.  
  • IDEA Part C Grants for Infants and Families increased by $4,850,000.  
  • Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS) increased by $2,000,000. 

Early care and education advocacy has always been strong in our field. This year, we not only saw an increased passion among our early educators and affiliates, we also saw parents, businesses, municipalities and associations speak up on behalf of our industry. You matter, you are essential, and we will keep fighting for fair wages, benefits and respect for this field. While there is so much more work to do, we hope that this news brings a little peace to you during this holiday season and that you enjoy a few well-earned days of rest.

 

1.These funds can be used to support providers facing reduced enrollment and increased costs of serving children safely, reduce family co-payments, pay staff salaries, provide care for the children of essential workers regardless of income, support costs related to reopening, and more. The legislation encourages lead agencies to delink provider payments from attendance. 2. Also of note here, new language establishes guidance regarding the tax implications of receiving PPP loan forgiveness. While still entirely unclear, it seems to allow for the for the deduction of expenses claimed under the PPP, and for loan forgiveness to not be included in income. Second-time loans are limited to businesses with fewer than 300 employees and at least a 25 percent drop in gross receipts in a 2020 quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019. Businesses taking a PPP loan will now be able to take the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), when previously they were only allowed to opt into one or the other. 3. Note: this stimulus bill won’t extend payment pause for student loan borrowers 4. This extends UI benefits to workers who traditionally are ineligible with at least $5,000 in self-employment income may be eligible for an additional $100 per week benefit as part of the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation

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