Feds Could Soon See Better Child Care Options Under a New Executive Order
A plan to revamp federal employees’ access to child care came Tuesday as part of a broad effort by President Biden to improve the affordability of care services for children and adult family members, as well as boost care workers’ compensation.
Federal workers could soon see their agencies offer expanded child care services or improved subsidies for child care, thanks to a new executive order from President Biden.
The executive order, signed on Tuesday, broadly seeks to tackle a lack of affordable child and adult care services while boosting compensation for workers in the industry. The administration said the order requires the federal government to take “over 50 actions” to bolster access to child care, home health care and other long term care for older adults, veterans and adults with disabilities.
“Pay for care workers is too low, which is why so many are leaving the whole endeavor,” Biden said at an event announcing the order. “Half of the long term care workforce and nearly 20% of the child care workforce leave their jobs each year, and that makes it even harder for families to find the help they need. And family members too often are forced to leave their own good jobs behind to stay home and be mom or dad. This is the United States of America—we should have no one who has to choose between caring for their parents or children and the paycheck they’re relying on to take care of both.”
On the federal workforce front, the order tasks the Office of Personnel Management with conducting a review of agencies’ policies for offering child care subsidies to employees and “consider setting” new standards for when and how agencies should provide those subsidies.
And it calls on all federal agencies to look for new opportunities to expand federal workers’ access to child care services, whether that be through subsidies, federally run child care centers or via federal contractors. Biden also called on the Defense Department to work to improve the affordability of child care on military bases.
The order seeks to build on a provision of the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, which requires semiconductor employers who apply for federal grants to submit plans for how they propose to help their workers access child care, by requiring federal agencies to identify grant programs that could require similar proposals to expand access to both child care and long term care for adults.
“Companies that received federal dollars from the CHIPS and Science Act have already generated $200 billion in investment commitments in the U.S.,” Biden said. “Those companies will have to provide high quality and affordable child care for their workers if they want to participate in the program. Care workers deserve to make a decent living and that’s a fight I’m willing to have.”
Under Biden’s edict, the Veterans Affairs Department must improve home-based care offerings for veterans by expanding its Veteran Directed Care program, which provides veterans with a budget to hire a caregiver of their choosing, including family members, to all VA medical centers by the end of fiscal 2024. And the Health and Human Services Department is expected to boost pay and benefits of staffers in the Head Start program.
“I’ve also instructed HHS to figure out how home care workers can get the pay they deserve using money that has already been allocated,” Biden said Tuesday. “And I’m directing the VA to cut the red tape and give veterans who need assistance at home more flexibility to pick their own caregivers. We’ve heard directly from veterans that this is one of the top priorities for them.”
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