Build Back Better Would Help Buoy HI Families, Advocates Say


November 18, 2021

Editor’s note: The following story was published by Soundbite Services on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Cross-posted with permission.

Build Back Better Would Help Buoy HI Families, Advocates Say

HONOLULU – The U.S. House could take up a vote on the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan as early as this week. In Hawaii, proponents of the legislation say it would do a lot to improve the lives of families.

Build Back Better includes funding for free preschool and child care for 3- and 4-year-olds nationwide. That would mean high-quality child care for 90,000 kids age 5 and younger in Hawaii, and reducing the average annual cost to no more than 7% of a family’s income.

Kathleen Algire, director of early learning and health policy for Hawai’i Children’s Action Network Speaks, said Build Back Better would address the child-care shortage in the state.

“We have been lucky that we haven’t seen a huge loss, like in some other places, but we never had enough child care to serve all the needs that we have,” she said. “And so without this kind of critical federal investment, I’m not sure that we’ll ever get there. And child care is one of the largest costs in a family’s budget in Hawaii.”

The social-spending plan awaits a cost estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which some moderate Democrats have said they need to receive before they can commit to a vote. The CBO said it plans to release a report no later than Friday.

Build Back Better also proposes expanding the Child Tax Credit for another year, which would provide more than 35 million households nationally up to $3,600 per child. Algire said the tax credit is much-needed financial support for Hawaii families overburdened by other costs.

“So, we know that families in Hawaii are using their Child Tax Credit to pay for basic needs like housing, like food,” she said. “We know that it’s a nice safety-net reserve for families, at a time when so many of our families have already lost their savings and just been greatly impacted by the pandemic.”

Hawaii was particularly hard-hit by the pandemic shutdown, since much of its economy depends on tourism and hospitality. Parents of more than 256,000 children in Hawaii received the tax credit in October.