President Biden's American Families Plan

Anna Hutchinson and Thomas Rodgers

Today, President Joe Biden announced the American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion plan to expand access to education, implement universal preschool, reduce the cost of child care, and support women in the workforce. The American Families Plan follows the proposed $2 trillion infrastructure investment called the American Jobs Plan that was released in March. The package would be funded by increasing the marginal income tax rate for the top one percent of American income earners to 39.6% from 37% and increasing capital gains and dividend tax rates for those earning more than $1 million per year. 

 

Early Childhood Care and Education

  • Universal Preschool for 3- and 4-year olds. Universal preschool would take the form of $200 billion in federal-state partnerships to provide seats for all 3- and 4-year-olds across the country. The plan specifies that providers would use developmentally appropriate curriculum, inclusive for all students. 
  • $15 Minimum Wage for Pre-K and Head Start Workers. The administration has also zeroed in on training and compensation of early childhood educators and staff by specifying that all pre-k and Head Start employees will earn a $15 minimum wage with those that have higher qualifications receiving commensurate compensation, highlighted investments in community colleges will be leveraged to support early childhood educators in obtaining bachelors degrees and other credentials, and planned for ongoing professional development and coaching opportunities.  
  • Affordability of Child Care. Biden’s $225 billion child care proposal takes the form of extending the American Rescue Plan’s child tax benefits as well as subsidies to families earning up to 1.5 times their state’s median income. These subsidies will ensure that families pay no more than 7% of their income on child care and save families an average of $14,000 annually.
  • Extend the Child Tax Credit increases in the American Rescue Plan through 2025 and make the Child Tax Credit permanently fully refundable. The plan expands the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child for 6-years old and above, and $3,600 per child for children under six. It also makes 17-year-olds eligible for the first time and makes the credit fully refundable on a permanent basis
  • Permanently increase tax credits to support families with child care needs. Biden is calling on Congress to make permanent the temporary Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) expansion enacted in the American Rescue Plan.

 

Higher Education 

  • Offer two years of free community college to all Americans, including DREAMers. Biden’s $109 billion plan will ensure that first-time students and workers wanting to reskill can enroll in a community college to earn a degree or credential for free. Students can use the benefit over three years and, if circumstances warrant, up to four years, recognizing that many students’ lives and other responsibilities can make full-time enrollment difficult. If all states, territories, and tribes participate, about 5.5 million students would pay $0 in tuition and fees.
  • Provide up to approximately $1,400 in additional assistance to low-income students by increasing the Pell Grant award.  The American Families Plan will increase the maximum Pell Grant award by approximately $1,400 and would allow DREAMers to access Pell Grants. 
  • Increase college retention and completion rates. A $62 billion grant program to invest in completion and retention activities at colleges and universities that serve high numbers of low-income students, particularly community colleges. States, territories, and tribes will receive grants to provide funding to colleges that adopt innovative, proven solutions for student success, including wraparound services ranging from child care and mental health services to faculty and peer mentoring; emergency basic needs grants; practices that recruit and retain diverse faculty; transfer agreements between colleges; and evidence-based remediation programs. 
  • Provide two years of subsidized tuition and expand programs in high-demand fields at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. A new $39 billion program that provides two years of subsidized tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000 enrolled in a four-year HBCU, TCU, or MSI. 
    • Biden is also calling for $5 billion to expand existing institutional aid grants to HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs, which can be used by these institutions to strengthen their academic, administrative, and fiscal capabilities, including by creating or expanding educational programs in high-demand fields (e.g., STEM, computer sciences, nursing, and allied health), with an additional $2 billion directed towards building a pipeline of skilled health care workers with graduate degrees. 

 

Education and Preparation for Teachers 

  • Address teacher shortages, improve teacher preparation, and strengthen pipelines for teachers of color.Biden’s plan calls on Congress to double scholarships for future teachers from $4,000 to $8,000 per year while earning their degree, strengthening the program, and expanding it to early childhood educators. 
    • The plan also invests $2.8 billion in “Grow Your Own” programs and year-long, paid teacher residency programs, which have a greater impact on student outcomes, teacher retention, and are more likely to enroll teacher candidates of color. Biden’s plan targets $400 million for teacher preparation at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs and $900 million for the development of special education teachers. 
  • Help current teachers earn in-demand credentials. $1.6 billion to provide educators with opportunities to obtain additional certifications in high-demand areas like special education, bilingual education, and certifications that improve teacher performance.
  • Invest in educator leadership. $2 billion to support programs that leverage teachers as leaders, such as high-quality mentorship programs for new teachers and teachers of color. 

 

Comprehensive Paid Family and Medical Leave Program: $225 billion over 10 years to create a program that will ensure workers receive partial wage replacement to take time to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill loved one, deal with a loved one's military deployment, find safety from sexual assault, stalking, or domestic violence, heal from their own serious illness, or take time to deal with the death of a loved one. It will guarantee twelve weeks of paid parental, family, and personal illness/safe leave by year 10 of the program, and also ensure workers get three days of bereavement leave per year starting in year one. The program will provide workers up to $4,000 a month, with a minimum of two-thirds of average weekly wages replaced, rising to 80% for the lowest wage workers.

 

Nutrition

  • Expand summer EBT to all eligible children nationwide. $25 billion to make the Summer Pandemic-EBT program – which helps students and families eligible for free and reduced-price lunch during the school year purchase food during the summer – permanent and available to all 29 million children receiving free and reduced-price meals.
  • Expand school meal programs. The plan will fund $17 billion to expand free meals for children in the highest poverty districts (those with at least 40% of students participating in SNAP) by reimbursing a higher percentage of meals at the free reimbursement rate through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). Additionally, the plan will expand free meals for children in elementary schools by reimbursing an even higher percentage of meals at the free reimbursement through CEP and lowering the threshold for CEP eligibility for elementary schools to 25 percent of students participating in SNAP. The plan will also expand direct certification to automatically enroll more students for school meals based on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income data. 
  • Launch a healthy foods incentive demonstration. $1 billion demonstration to support schools that are further expanding healthy food offerings. Schools adopting specified measures that exceed current school meal standards will receive an enhanced reimbursement as an incentive. 
  • Facilitate re-entry for formerly incarcerated individuals through SNAP eligibility. Currently, Individuals convicted of a drug-related felony are currently ineligible to receive SNAP benefits unless a state has taken the option to eliminate or modify this restriction. Biden’s plan would create a re-entry program for these individuals to become eligible for SNAP benefits.