childcare

Pullups for a toddler who is potty training. A bicycle. Clothes that aren't hand-me-downs. A home with heat and working plumbing. A trip to the zoo.

Four in 10 children in the U.S. live in households struggling to afford basic expenses, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Now, as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the House and Senate have passed a child benefit, the first of its kind in the United States.

The House Budget Committee has approved legislation advancing President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, setting a path for intense debate in the Senate.

The legislation is set for a vote on the House floor at the end of the week. The Senate is then expected to take up the legislation and attempt to modify it to ensure it can pass procedural hurdles while still satisfying all 50 Senate Democrats.

Shortly after President Trump arrived at the White House, he disbanded an office specifically focused on women's issues. Now President Biden is resurrecting it just as quickly.

Updated at 8:37 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden outlined his plans for economic relief from the coronavirus crisis on Thursday, citing the need for a more robust vaccination plan as well as for additional direct payments to American families to help recover the U.S. economy. His plan, called the American Rescue Plan, is expected to cost $1.9 trillion.

Norah Perez's children had been going to day care since they were four months old. That came to an abrupt end this spring when the coronavirus hit and their day care closed.

Like many parents, Perez initially thought it might last a few weeks. Turns out, that was wishful thinking. Now, she could lose some of the money she set aside from her paycheck, pre-tax, to pay for day care. She has $2,200 stuck in what's called a dependent-care flexible spending account, money that is "use it or lose it" unless Congress or the IRS act.

Rachael Shannon gets nostalgic when she thinks of the life she lived in Germany until just a couple of years ago. While she and her husband worked, their children spent their days in child care, creating awesome crafts, building pillow forts and going on outings to farms where they'd dig up potatoes.

"It was like wow times 10," says Shannon, who worked for a U.S. government contractor.

Back in early spring, Khristan Yates worked as a quality assurance analyst at a marketing company and loved her job. "I had one of the best jobs of my career," recalls Yates, 31, a resident of Chicago.

Yates, who's a mother of two children, had moved into a bigger apartment just before the pandemic hit because she wanted to give her kids more space. At the time, she felt like she was "at the top of her world."

But as the economic effects of the pandemic hit the marketing industry among others, she lost her job in May.

At Dwight D. Eisenhower Charter School in Algiers, a low-slung brick building across the river from downtown New Orleans, school leaders greet students as they make their way into the building. All are masked.

In the cafeteria, a movable wall cuts the space in half, separating the students into socially distanced groups of nine. Strips of tape mark separate pathways for students and staff. Big pumps of hand sanitizer sit on each desk, and everyone, teachers and students, is wearing a mask.

Of the many sectors of the American economy slammed by the coronavirus pandemic, the businesses and individuals who provide child care to an estimated 12 million children under age 5 are among the hardest hit.

Kirk Gallegos is a single father of four. He works construction in Barstow, Calif. Prudence Carter is a single mother of one. She's the dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley.

Both share the same problem with tens of millions of other parents around the country: Their public schools aren't operating full time in-person this fall. And the rest of the child care system, which had been stretched even before the pandemic, is itself under pressure.

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