At the end of April, President Biden released the American Families Plan as a follow-up to his American Rescue Plan he signed into law earlier in the year. That’s a lot of plans, involving a lot of numbers and we know parents are busy—too busy to have probably taken a deep dive into what this all means. So here are four big takeaways to be in the know about.
The American Families Plan will work with states to provide universal, quality preschool for all three and four year olds. This is huge. Talk to parents anywhere and one of the biggest expenses they encounter in the early years of parenting is paying for their child to be in safe, quality early childhood education. Because “quality” is a key component in this plan, it encourages small class sizes, developmentally appropriate curriculum, and an inclusive environment. It also includes support for Pre-K and Head Start educators such as benefit packages similar to elementary school teachers, at least a $15 minimum hourly wage, on-the-job training and support and other professional development opportunities. This portion of the plan is geared to save families thousands because no parent should need to choose between putting food on the table and giving their child a quality education.
Affordable Child Care
Going hand-in-hand with preschool expenses is child care. Under the American Families Plan, families with low- to middle-incomes will pay no more than 7% of their income on childcare, meaning parents will pay on a sliding scale based on their income. Eligible child care centers and home-based providers will receive funding to support their programs to ensure the care your little one receives is still top-notch. The White House estimates this could save families an average of $14,800 per year in child care costs. Early childhood educators would also be able to access the support outlined in the plan for Pre-K and Head Start providers, giving them the infrastructure needed to maintain the level of performance our children need.
Guaranteed Paid Parental Leave
If you’ve been on Is This Normal for a hot minute you know that paid family leave is something we feel passionate about. And we know you do, too—especially if you work for a company that doesn’t provide it. BTW, we should also throw in here that the US is currently the only developed Country IN THE WORLD that does not offer some form of national parental leave.
President Biden wants to pursue guaranteed 12 weeks of paid parental leave. It will cover a minimum of two-thirds of average weekly wages, but provide higher payment for low-wage employment with a maximum of $4,000 a month. This not only would change life for the families it affects, but will change the culture of our nation. We talk to moms and families every day that share their experience with having to go back to work immediately after having their baby because they can’t afford to take the time off or their work place doesn’t offer PTO and isn’t required to provide FMLA. This could be a turning point for parents to be able to stay home with their baby without sacrifice.
Tax Credits for Families Making Less Than $400,000
The theme of this plan is more money in the pockets of parents, and it is furthered by extending tax cuts such as the Child Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. The White House shares that this portion of the plan will result in $800 billion in tax cuts for American families. For example, the plan extends the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 per child under 6 years old, with families receiving regular payments instead of waiting on tax season for a refund. The tax plans are complicated, but largely, if your family makes less than $400,000, you should expect to see monthly payments in July-December 2021 as a result from the American Rescue Plan. The extension provided in the American Families Plan would make this a regular payment structure until 2025.
There is a lot more to this plan. Other highlights include providing two years free community college enrollment, making permanent the pandemic-era Summer EBT program lowering food insecurity among children during the summer months and providing funding to give teachers access to leadership training and mentoring with a particular focus on teachers of color.
It also includes topics like access to early childhood education, paid guaranteed parental leave, affordable childcare—these are issues that people have devoted their entire lives to advocating for and now they are finally close to becoming a reality for thousands of families across our country.
So what’s the current status of this bill? It’s in debate, and unlikely at this stage to stay intact. The Plan is also partnered with a comprehensive infrastructure plan, making its journey through Congress…complicated. We’ll continue to monitor and share updates on this bill’s progress.
If you want to read more in-depth about the entire American Families Plan visit www.whitehouse.gov. Want to reach out to your Congressional representative to tell them why the American Families Plan is important to you? Visit www.house.gov, use the “Find Your Representative” tool in the top right corner by entering your zip code, then click on your representative for contact info.