During National Apprenticeship Week, Rep. Cuellar Proposes Child Care Stipends for Union Apprenticeship Programs
Washington | Arturo C. Olivarez, DC Press Secretary (956-970-1441), November 14, 2023
In recognition of National Apprenticeship Week, Representatives Henry Cuellar, Ph.D. (TX-28), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Donald Norcross (NJ-1), and Debbie Dingell (MI-6) introduced the Apprentice-Related Child Care (ARCC) Act. The bill would establish a child care stipend pilot program available to Americans enrolled in Registered Apprenticeships and Pre-Apprenticeship programs.
The legislation is endorsed by North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC), United Association of Union Plumbers & Pipefitters (UA), International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association (OPCMIA), International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (Insulators), and Third Way.
“I’ve seen the benefits of the Registered Apprenticeship system first-hand in South Texas, where our local unions sponsor multi-year programs in a variety of trades,” said Dr. Cuellar. “Despite these successes, apprentices still face financial barriers to completion – particularly those with dependent children. The cost of child care has more than tripled in the last three decades. It’s essential that we do more to address these costs and support American workers.”
“America will never reach peak workforce participation unless we as a country address the urgent and escalating issue of child care. It touches every office, business, and job site in the United States,” said Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions. “The lack of access to safe, quality, affordable child care prevents parents from being in the workforce, hurts our economy, and hurts families. All of us must do more. The building trades unions and our partners are stepping up to do our part, and we applaud those who are focused on exploring strategies to provide additional support. The Apprentice-Related Child Care (ARCC) Act does just this, and we thank Representatives Cuellar, Bonamici, Norcross, and Dingell for their leadership on this issue.”
“Union apprenticeships are the best tool we have to lift Americans into the middle class. But far too often, historically underrepresented communities run into obstacles that prevent them from accessing the careers that we provide – one of the most prominent being affordable child care,” said Michael Coleman, General President of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART). “The Apprentice-Related Child Care Act would play a vital role in helping parents surmount that financial barrier, making it easier for unions like SMART to bring people of all backgrounds into our industries. This is a potentially life-changing piece of legislation for workers across the country, and we thank Representatives Cuellar, Bonamici, Norcross, and Dingell for introducing it.”
“When someone thinks of the building trades, they think of workers who build things, but we are also people who like to break down barriers,” said Kevin Sexton, the General President of the Operative Plasterers’ & Cement Masons’ International Association of the United States and Canada (OPCMIA). “Today, one of the biggest barriers to entering the workforce is the high cost of childcare. By providing childcare stipends, the Apprentice-Related Child Care (ARCC) Act will help parents pursue careers that will enable them to better provide for their families. We thank Representatives Cuellar, Bonamici, Norcross, and Dingell for introducing the ARCC Act and their leadership by supporting parents in their pursuit of the American dream. Together, we will pave the road to the middle class.”
“For UA members – and for working families everywhere – access to quality and affordable child care is essential,” said General President Mark McManus, United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters. “We work long hours so that we can build, modernize, and maintain our nation’s essential infrastructure, and often struggle to find child care programs that meet our needs. The Apprentice-Related Child Care Act will help close that gap and ensure more working families have access to the essential child care they need.”
“The burdensome cost of child care prevents too many parents, especially mothers, from reaping the benefits of our country’s apprenticeship system,” said Gabe Horwitz, Senior Vice President of the Economic Program at Third Way. “This legislation takes an important step in making our apprenticeship system reach more parents and have the support they need to balance the demands of work and family.”
“Apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships put workers on a path to quality, good-paying jobs that will support their family for years to come,” said Representative Bonamici. “Increasing access to child care will encourage a more diverse workforce and foster inclusive economic growth by allowing more people to benefit from these programs while caring for their families. I’m pleased to introduce the Apprenticeship-Related Child Care Act with my colleagues to make child care more affordable for apprentices and pre-apprentices and open the doors to opportunity.”
“As a former electrical apprentice, I know firsthand that registered apprenticeships are one of America’s most successful job programs,” said Representative Norcross. “The ARCC Act will expand access to apprenticeships and remove barriers to these highly successful programs by providing affordable childcare for hardworking Americans who are working to support their families. I am committed to making sure that all apprentices have the resources and opportunities they need to complete their programs, and I am proud to co-lead this bill that will strengthen America's workforce and expand pathways to the middle class."
“Caregiving is the foundation of our economy and allows all other work to be possible,” said Representative Dingell. “The ARCC Act will help address the childcare crisis in this country, allowing Americans who would otherwise not be able to access apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships that lead to good-paying, high-value careers.”
The ARCC Act would establish a two-year pilot program at the Department of Labor (DOL). Authorized at $200 million over Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025, the bill directs the DOL to establish a competitive grant program, awarding grants to ten geographically diverse states for the purposes of administering child care stipends to American workers enrolled in Registered Apprenticeships and Pre-Apprenticeship programs.
Stipends are paid directly to child care providers serving apprentices and must be at least $500 per month, per dependent child. When administering child care stipends, states must include groups that are historically underrepresented in apprenticeships, including women and people of color. At the conclusion of the pilot program, DOL must report to Congress on the impact of these stipends, including any effect on persistence and completion rates. The stipends are not subject to income tax and not counted toward eligibility for public benefit programs.
Dr. Cuellar is a strong supporter of American workers.