Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, is proud to announce her virtual guest to President Biden’s first speech to a Joint Session of Congress will be Karen Haas-Foletta, Executive Director of Footsteps Child Care.

The Joint Address marks 100 days into the President’s first term. While COVID-19 safety protocols require attendance to be limited, Rep. Speier is grateful to have Ms. Haas-Foletta join her virtually in honor of the people who make California’s 14th District an incredible place to live and work and to uplift their stories of courage and fortitude in light of the devastating impacts of the pandemic.

“In order to revitalize our economy, we must rescue our child care industry, which has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Despite losing more than 60 percent of children previously served, as well as staff due to COVID-19, Karen’s child care center has risen to the monumental challenge of providing distance and in-class learning while adjusting to COVID-19 protocols. Child care providers are truly one of our greatest unsung heroes and it’s my honor and privilege to have Karen join me virtually to raise awareness of the needs of America’s overworked and underpaid child care providers,” Rep. Speier said.

“I am also thankful that the Biden-Harris Administration recognizes the importance of the care economy, signing into law the largest investment in child care since World War II. Without quality child care options children are left struggling emotionally and intellectually, and parents are unable to work and provide for their families. With one in six child care jobs lost since the start of the pandemic, we risk exacerbating the she-cession that has claimed 4.6 million jobs held by women. We must build on the American Rescue Plan’s historic investment in child care by moving toward universal child care for all who need it and ensuring that our heroic providers receive the compensation they deserve,” Rep Speier added.

“The child care industry is very appreciative of the commitment and prioritization of child care in the American Rescue Plan. It will allow our essential industry to sustain our infrastructure and be able to continue to provide quality child care for working families. Through a variety of funding sources including CARES Act funding and the federal PPP loans/grants it has allowed many providers to continue operating. For Footsteps, the funding was a life saver and presented a path forward,” Haas-Foletta said. Without funding we would have lost a devastating amount of money and would not be able to provide child care services to many of the families in our county, especially vulnerable communities.”

In addition to the $130 billion that President Biden’s American Rescue Plan has invested in America’s schools so that they can reopen safely, stay open safely, and make up for lost learning time, it is providing nearly $40 billion to states, of which California is receiving more than $3.7 billion, to help keep child care providers on the job and lower costs for working families. The investment was desperately needed, as one study found that as of December 2020, 56 percent of child care providers reported losing money each day they stayed open.

Lack of child care is the third most reported reason for not working, after pandemic-related layoffs and furloughs due to reduced business. Expanding access to affordable, high-quality child care to everyone who needs it would increase the number of women with young children working full-time by 17 percent, and increase the lifetime earnings for women with two children by $94,000, which would lead to an increase of $20,000 in private savings and an additional $10,000 in Social Security benefits.

Congresswoman Speier is a cosponsor of the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would dramatically expand access to child care by ensuring that most working families are not paying more than 7 percent of their income on care, raising wages for workers, and improving the quality and supply of child care and early learning slots.