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Here's what the Biden/Harris administration plans to do about pressing issues facing cash-poor parents this year—from coronavirus stimulus to child care and college costs.

By Libby Ryan
Updated March 10, 2021
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An image of Joe Biden on a colorful background.
Credit: Getty Images. Art: Jillian Sellers.

After a long and contentious election season, former vice president Joe Biden and California senator Kamala Harris entered office earlier this year and immediately got to work addressing the one-year-old coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted long-simmering problems lurking beneath the surface of American society. Half of working Americans say a major medical event could bankrupt them, much less a medical emergency such as the serious side effects associated with coronavirus. The majority of children who die from the virus are children of color, highlighting dangerous racial inequities in the country. More than half of American families spend at least $10,000 every year on child care and many can't even find affordable options during the pandemic.

"We are trapped in a caregiving crisis within an economic crisis within a public health crisis," Biden said in a campaign speech last summer. "We have to ease the financial burden of care that families are carrying."

Biden has begun tackling these concurrent emergencies with his $1.9 trillion economic stimulus plan, which promises to have far-reaching impact.

To help you understand what sort of assistance is on the horizon, we broke down what the Biden/Harris administration plans to do about pressing issues facing cash-poor parents this year—from coronavirus stimulus and health care to child care, family leave, education, cost of college, and more.

Coronavirus Stimulus

Biden's coronavirus stimulus package includes additional payments of $1,400 for Americans. Specifically, individuals who make less than $75,000 and married couples who earn less than $150,000 are eligible for the new wave of direct payments. The bill also includes payments of $1400 per dependent.

But there are more structural changes inside Biden's COVID relief bill as well.

The bill also temporarily expands the child tax credit. Currently worth up to $2,000 per child under 17, the coronavirus stimulus package expands the credit for 2021 to as much as $3,600 for children up to age 5 and up to $3,000 for children 6 to 17.

There's more good news for parents in the new coronavirus stimulus measure as well. The bill, which The New York Times calls a "policy revolution in aid for children," includes distribution of advance payments of the child tax credit for the second half of 2021 via periodic installments, essentially providing a guaranteed stream of income to families with children.

Health Care

Building off the existing ACA, Biden plans to give families more choice in their health insurance options. Parents can choose private insurance, insurance through their employer, or use a new public option that would function similar to Medicare. He wants to limit health care costs so that families will not have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income on health insurance. Biden also plans to give low-income families premium-free access to that public option, since not all states give families equal access to Medicare.

Biden has also said he will ban health care providers from "surprise billing." His administration plans to also fund extended health care programming, including special focuses on mental health, maternity mortality, and opioid addiction.

Child Care

In the short term, Biden's stimulus package attacks America's childcare crisis on multiple fronts.

For instance, it includes $15 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant a federal program designed to help low-income families afford child care. Biden's team has said the money is aimed specifically at allowing women to return to the workforce.

Once the country moves from relief to recovery, Biden has promised to allocate $775 billion to expanding access and lowering the cost of caregiving—both for children and sick or elderly family members—Biden wants to invest in workplace child care facilities and increase after school programming. He also plans to create universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.

The president has also said he intends to expand care for children between birth and five years old. His plan for doing things includes such measures as creating sliding-scale subsidies and tax credits to help working families afford child care.

Biden also plans to support "informal" caregivers, AKA parents who are not getting paid for their caregiving, through a $5,000 tax credit.

Family Leave

The Biden administration plans to ensure 12 weeks of paid family leave for all workers, whether parents want to use the leave for caring for a newborn, new adopted or foster child, or other family member who is ill.

Education

The Biden administration also plans to focus on ending the education gap between rich and poor school districts by tripling funding for schools serving a high number of low-income families. Biden says he plans to increase teacher diversity (as well as increase public teacher salaries), and to increase diversity in schools, closing funding gaps between primarily white school districts and districts with primarily students of color. Biden also aims to double the number of psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in schools.

Cost of College

Biden has also promised to make college more affordable including creating a system under which two years of community college and many vocational programs would be free. For families making less than $125,000, tuition at public colleges and universities would also be free.

Biden's student loan repayment plan would require borrowers to pay 5 percent of their income toward their student loans, and for those who earn less than $25,000 per year, no payments would be required. After 20 years of repayment, the remainder of borrowers' loans would be forgiven.

Gun Control

Biden plans to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and says he will create a buy-back program to pay people for their weapons or help them register them (similar to how machine guns or silencers are registered). He also plans to begin universal background checks for any gun purchases and ban online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.

Biden also plans to allocate $50 million for gun violence research and will also increase funding for mental health services. He also says that he will ban federal funding from going toward arming or training "educators to discharge firearms," according to his website. 

Disability Programs

Biden plans to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and intends to work with the Department of Education to make sure public school teachers are trained to support students with disabilities. He will also allocate $100 billion to improve schools, including updating them to make sure they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (as well as increase ADA-compliant accessibility on public transportation and in public buildings).

Comments (3)

Anonymous
October 30, 2020
Really “Parents”? You don’t even talk about important issues like abortion! Smh. Trump2020!
Anonymous
October 29, 2020
Still trying to figure things out. I like what Biden wants to do but, where is all his funding coming from?
Anonymous
October 29, 2020
Still trying to figure things out. I like what Biden wants to do but, where is all his funding coming from?