For Immediate Release:
February 1, 2022
Marwa Abdelghani, Communications Manager
The Senate Must Build Back Better for Children
The Children’s Partnership (TCP) urges our leaders in the Senate to stand united in the fight for children and families by passing the Build Back Better Act. Too many of California’s children and families continue to battle economic, health and social hardships from the pandemic. This is particularly true for the more than two in three children in our state who are from families of color and face unique systemic inequities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, including lack of or poor health care coverage, housing and income instability, and food insecurity.
- In California, Black women are four times more likely than white women to die from complications of pregnancy and birth.
- Latinx children make up 55 percent of COVID-19 cases and 50 percent of deaths – higher than their share of the state’s population under 18 (48 percent).
- In California, 59 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native children live in families whose income falls below the federal poverty level, compared to 15 percent of all children.
The Build Back Better Act would make historic investments that address whole-child and whole-family needs by supporting both the health and economic stability of families. As negotiations continue, TCP calls on the Senate to protect the health and well-being of children and families by ensuring the passage of legislation that includes:
- A pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Policymakers must come together to create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants, who are an integral part of the nation’s families, communities and economy. An analysis by the Children Thrive Action Network found that passing a pathway to citizenship can help lift more than a quarter of a million children out of poverty. In California–where one in two children have an immigrant parent or are immigrants themselves–providing a pathway to citizenship will bring stability to millions of children and youth, ultimately supporting their healthy development and long-term success. Now is the time to act and do anything possible to pass this important bill with a pathway to citizenship.
- A permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) that is also inclusive of children in immigrant families. The expanded CTC payments from the American Rescue Plan Act, alone, have kept 3.8 million children across the nation from experiencing poverty, over half of whom are from Latinx or Black families. In California, 1.7 million children are at risk of slipping back below the poverty line or deeper into poverty if the expansion is not extended. Additionally, eligibility for the CTC must be inclusive of all children and their families, no matter their immigration status, and be restored to approximately one million Little Dreamers across the country and nearly 200,000 children in California, bringing in $609.5 million to families in our state.
- Protections for infant and maternal health and well-being. At a time when stable health coverage for families is essential, we must incorporate critical investments from the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act like continuous Medicaid coverage with full benefits for at least a year postpartum, resources for community-based organizations, funding to address social determinants of maternal health, at least one year of continuous Medicaid eligibility for children, and making the Children’s Health Insurance Program permanent.
- Resources that address child hunger. Too many California households with children are experiencing hunger–and nearly 700,000 California children are actively without enough food, the worst form of hunger. Elected leaders can move us toward a hunger-free future for our children by including provisions that expand the number of schools that would be able to offer free meals to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision, allow all states to conduct Medicaid direct certification, and extend summer EBT nationwide for students who receive free or reduced-price school meals to close the summer meal gap.
- Supports for early childhood learning. Generations of deeply rooted racial inequities throughout the child care and early education system have robbed children of color of the critical investments that support a child’s earliest years of life, when most brain development occurs. Equity-focused provisions targeting communities that have been historically underserved can offer meaningful, immediate and long-term positive impacts for communities of color. This includes two years of universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds and a sliding scale limit on child care costs for working families that covers the cost of high-quality child care, ensuring that families earning up to 1.5 times their state’s median income pay no more than seven percent of their income for high-quality child care for their children under age 5.
The Build Back Better Act offers children and families across California and the country the opportunity to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic with the stability they need to live healthy lives and thrive. In order to come out stronger, we must invest in the factors that most affect the well-being and the quality of life of all our communities, including education, health care coverage, food security and sustainable jobs. We must not squander this moment. Build Back Better provides us with an opportunity to eradicate systemic barriers through policies that prioritize investments in children and families and build a strong foundation for generations to come.
The Children’s Partnership
The Children’s Partnership envisions a California where all children—regardless of their race, ethnicity or place of birth—have the resources and opportunities they need to grow up healthy and thrive, and its mission is to advance this vision of child health equity through research, policy and community engagement. Learn more at www.childrenspartnership.org.