Douglas Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, top, applauds with pre-school children after reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, at Mother Hubbard Pre-School Center, Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, in Milford, Mass. Credit: Steven Senne / AP

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As a family child care provider for 21 years, I experienced firsthand how COVID-19 exacerbated our community’s child care challenges. The pandemic pushed an already unstable industry to the brink. However, the challenges in child care run even deeper.

Since 2010, family child care businesses in Maine have  declined by almost 30 percent. It’s a profession that takes a lot of skill, expertise and funding. Programs are utilizing federal relief funding to remain open, but before it is too late and that money runs out, we truly need Congress to take further action and make a significant and sustained investment in child care.

Build Back Better would ensure  up to 90 percent of Maine families pay no more than 7 percent of their income on child care, lowering child care costs tremendously, while simultaneously funding increased wages for early childhood educators to drive supply and quality. It would move us from a system that works for no one, to a system that works for everyone who needs it.

It would also make pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds universal and invest in child care centers, family child care homes, faith-based programs, Head Start and schools to make this possible. Mixed delivery in this vision doesn’t start with the schools or end with the schools; it is built on equitable distribution across eligible providers, including family child care programs like mine.

I’m asking Sen. Susan Collins to prioritize these child care investments and solve America’s child care crisis once and for all.

Chrissie Davis