Harris touts child care funding and payments to families

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks about child tax credit during visit at CentroNia, a bilingual early childhood education school in northwest in Washington, Friday, June 11, 2021 . (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted the Biden administration's efforts to expand child care and relieve the financial pressures of parenthood during a visit to a child care center on Friday.

Harris is discussing new guidance on $15 billion in grants to support child care programs, forthcoming payments to families from the child tax credit and a separate credit to help parents pay for care.

The outreach is part of the continued implementation of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion relief package to help the U.S. economy heal from the coronavirus pandemic. Administration officials said they expect that several million families will benefit from the assistance, while underscoring that the money should enable more parents to work and boost economic growth.

“We know that the pandemic did not invent these challenges, but it certainly accelerated these challenges,” Harris said Friday at CentroNía in Washington. “Childcare centers were closed. Parents have been out of work. Families' budgets have been stretched.”

Harris spoke about a key administration priority while Biden attends the Group of Seven summit in the U.K. The Democratic administration is making a case for government aid to foster economic gains and improve people's lives, while many Republican lawmakers say that the relief package is unleashing inflation that could hurt the economy and Americans' well-being.

The administration is also seeking to gain support to spend trillions of dollars more on infrastructure, education, and extending parts of its relief package that provide aid to families. In a virtual meeting with small businesses on Thursday, Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said that help for workers would also benefit companies.

“When employees do not have to worry that they are unable to meet the needs of their loved ones, they’re more productive, more attentive and better able to maintain skills needed to succeed in the labor market,” Rouse said.

Many parents have needed to forgo work because of the pandemic, and the administration is banking on $15 billion for child care and development block grants to make it easier for people to return to jobs. That sum is on top of the $24 billion already going to states, territories and tribes to stabilize the child care sector.