WASHINGTON – Two bishop chairmen on behalf of their committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have cosigned a coalition letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) with other faith groups raising urgent concerns that the Build Back Better Act’s (BBBA) child care and universal pre-kindergarten programs would exclude faith-based providers.
“Expanding affordable child care and pre-kindergarten is a worthy goal to help working families. However, the current child care and universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) provisions in the Build Back Better Act will suppress, if not exclude, the participation of many faith-based providers,” wrote Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, together with numerous organizations representing denominations, schools, and charities.
The letter explains that although the BBBA does not preclude parents from selecting faith-based providers, the bill’s current provisions make it virtually impossible for many faith based providers to participate in the program by departing from current federal child care policy and attaching new compliance obligations that would interfere with providers’ protected rights under Title VII and Title IX regarding curricula or teaching, sex-specific programs (such as separate boys or girls schools or classes), and preferences for employing individuals who share the providers’ religious beliefs.
“The faith community has always affirmed that parents should choose the best environment for care and education of their children. The current Build Back Better Act provisions would severely limit the options for parents, suffocate the mixed delivery system for child care and pre-kindergarten, and greatly restrict the number of providers available for a successful national program.”
The coalition asks for urgent attention to address these concerns in order to ensure that faith-based providers are able to participate in the BBBA’s child care and UPK programs.
A full list of signatories can be seen in the letter to Senators Murray and Burr, which is available at: https://www.usccb.org/resources/FINAL%20Coalition%20letter%2012-1-21%20(1).pdf.