The Secretary joined First Lady Jill Biden at the school for a press conference and listening sessions focused on American Rescue Plan investments in child care.
As Prepared for Delivery
Good afternoon, everyone. Give it up one more time for our amazing First Lady!
Dr. Biden, thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your inspiration. And thank you for your commitment to ensuring quality child care and affordable health care are within reach of every American family.
I also want to thank President Gabel and the University of Minnesota for being our gracious hosts.
And of course, Governor Walz, First Lady Gwen Walz, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, and Congresswoman Omar.
Thank you for joining us today and for your critical leadership here in Minnesota, especially as we continue to battle this pandemic.
I actually had the privilege of visiting Minneapolis in November of last year to promote COVID-19 vaccinations for school-aged children.
So, first November and now February. Just once I’d like to be invited to Minnesota in the summer.
But in all seriousness, I’m deeply honored to be here again today to advocate for the health and well-being of our nation’s parents and children.
When the pandemic hit, child care programs stayed open to serve essential workers and keep our communities strong.
But many parents still struggled to find and afford child care. They were stuck, forced to choose between keeping their paycheck and caring for their children.
Some parents had to shoulder multiple caregiving responsibilities. A sick relative. A spouse with a disability. An aging grandparent.
I’ve lived these struggles firsthand. Not just as a father of three daughters or as a caretaker for my own father, but also a child of immigrant parents who didn’t always know where the next paycheck would come from.
As the first in my family to go to college, I also know how important it is to have a strong foundation in those early years.
Every parent should be able to give their child that foundation. But this pandemic has pushed families to the brink.
One Minnesota mom summed it up this way: “There’s no winning in this system—only getting by.”
The Biden-Harris Administration is here to change that.
Last year, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, which delivered $39 billion in child care relief funds—the largest investment in child care in our history, including $526 million right here in Minnesota.
These new resources are already making a difference.
More than 134,000 child care providers have benefitted from the child care stabilization grants, and more help is on the way.
And the American Rescue Plan is reducing the cost of child care for more than 200,000 families.
But we still have work to do. There is a critical child care workforce shortage. Nationally, the workforce is 12% below pre-pandemic levels. And child care is still out of reach for too many families.
This crisis began long before the COVID-19 pandemic. And it will continue long after if we don’t take bold action.
That’s why we need to pass Build Back Better, which will help millions of families by making even greater investments in our child care infrastructure.
It’s time for a change. No more “just getting by.” No more staff shortages and shuttered doors and sky-high costs.
If we’re committed, if we’re determined, and most of all, if we work together to Build Back Better, we can end the child care crisis and give families the support they deserve.
Now, I’d like to welcome another child care champion, your governor, Tim Walz.