Biden signs executive order to improve access to child care

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has signed an executive order containing more than 50 directives to increase access to child care and improve the work life of caregivers, the White House said Tuesday.

But the directives would be funded out of existing commitments, the White House said. That likely means their impact would carry more of a symbolic weight compared with the Democratic president’s call in 2021 to provide more than $425 billion to expand child care, improve its affordability and boost wages for caregivers.

Biden also has called for more money for the care economy in his 2024 budget plan, drawing a sharp line with Republicans, who are seeking limits on spending.

Susan Rice, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told reporters on a phone call that the order shows that Biden isn’t waiting on Congress to act.

“The child care, long-term care systems in this country just don’t work well,” Rice said. “High-quality care is costly to deliver. It’s labor-intensive. It requires skilled workers. Yet care workers, who are disproportionately women and women of color and immigrants, are among the lowest paid in the country.”

The order seeks to improve the child care provided to the offspring of federal workers, including military families. It plans to lower costs for families that are part of the Child Care & Development Block Grant program. Military veterans would get better home-based care. And the Department of Health and Human Services would raise pay and benefits for teachers and staff in the Head Start program.

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