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Neal Opening Statement at Virtual Roundtable on Child Care

July 24, 2020
Press Release

(As prepared for delivery)

Good morning. Thank you to everyone who is tuning in online, and a special thank you to the terrific moms who have taken time out of their days to be a part of this important conversation.

We’ve gathered to discuss a matter that’s always of great concern to families, but is especially urgent at this moment: the availability of affordable, safe, quality child care.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, there was a shortage of good child care options in this nation.

Now that we’re experiencing a public health crisis coupled with an economic recession, families face even greater strains and challenges.

How can parents who are working from home also care for their children who are now stuck at home as well?

How can parents return to their jobs in person if there are no child care options for their kids, or if the child care they can find isn’t safe or affordable?

School systems across the country are announcing that they’ll only be providing virtual instruction during the fall semester. How can parents work – either at home or in-person – and also help home school their children?

These are just a few of the impossible questions facing families.

What’s exceedingly clear is that until we address the child care crisis, families cannot function and the economy cannot successfully reopen.

Along with Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, I introduced the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, legislation that expands the availability of quality child care, helps workers return to their jobs when it’s safe, and enables America’s economy to recover from the COVID-19 recession.

That bill will be up for a vote in the House on Monday, and I look forward to its passage. It’s critical the Senate follows our lead and the President signs the measure into law.

But we’re not here today to talk about legislation. We’re here to listen to the voices of real parents and to learn more about the support they need the most.

I’m thrilled that Congresswoman Jahana Hayes from Connecticut is able to join us today. Congresswoman Hayes is herself is a working mother, and she also previously earned the tremendous honor of Teacher of the Year. I’m so glad we’ll hear her perspective today.

Many viewers are likely already familiar with Deb Perelman. Her cook books and food blog Smitten Kitchen have brought much joy and many delicious meals into folks’ homes over the years. Ms. Perelman recently wrote a powerful op-ed in the New York Times on the ways the U.S. economy is crushing working parents. Her words struck a chord with so many people who share her experience, and I appreciate her being here today to speak more on these issues.                                                                                        

I also want to welcome Julie, the mother of a two-year-old son, who joins us from Michigan. Julie is a teacher, and her husband works as well. Now, due to the COVID-19 crisis, they’re trying to balance their jobs while also providing their young son with the care and attention he needs. Julie, thank you for being here to share your story.

Diana is a mother of two young children who joins us from New York. Her daughter’s child care and son’s after care have both closed permanently during the pandemic, and she’s walking the challenging tightrope of maintaining her current workload while also caring for her kids. Diana, I appreciate you joining us today.

Now, I’d like to offer each of our guests the opportunity to share their stories and say a few opening words. We’ll then open this up to a discussion – I’m looking forward to listening to everyone’s comments and insights.