By Josh Boak
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Tuesday that contains more than 50 directives to increase access to child care and improve the work life of caregivers.
But the directives would be funded out of existing commitments, possibly including last year's laws financing infrastructure projects and building computer chip plants. That likely means their impact would be limited and possess more of a symbolic weight about what's possible. The Democratic president was far more ambitious in 2021 by calling to provide more than $425 billion to expand child care, improve its affordability and boost wages for caregivers.
"The executive order doesn’t require any new spending," Biden said in remarks at the White House. “It’s about making sure taxpayers get the best value for the investments they’ve already made.”
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.