Ripon Advance

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on Sept. 4 introduced a bipartisan bill that would expand access to childcare services through the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Congress must ensure that our school districts can provide the best quality of education during these turbulent times,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said last week.

Health challenges associated with COVID-19 have pushed many school districts to provide remote or hybrid learning models this school year, subsequently forcing almost 24 million workers with children aged 6 through 14 years to have no at-home childcare options this fall, according to Rep. Fitzpatrick’s staff.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, and our school districts need immediate relief,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “We need to give school districts maximum flexibility to access relief funds so that our community can support students, faculty, and staff.”

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020, H.R. 8162, was co-sponsored by Rep. Fitzpatrick with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA). The legislation would create short-term, flexible grant programs for federally funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which support after-school, before-school, and summer learning programs, to expand their operations to include programs during school hours.

Such learning centers are typically operated at Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, schools, or other community centers and have trusted partnerships with the school districts they serve, according to the congressman’s office, which noted that the bill would leverage these partnerships to create more childcare options so that working parents could return to and stay in the workforce.

“Every student deserves a quality education, and this bill will help our students receive the academic support and resources they need to reach their full potential,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said.

H.R. 8162 is endorsed by the Afterschool Alliance, After-School All-Stars, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National AfterSchool Association, among others.